Eliminating Key Provisions of MSA is a Faustian Bargain for Recreational Fishermen
On September 12, lifelong saltwater angler Tony Friedrich testified before the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard – a hearing titled “Reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act: Oversight of Fisheries Management Successes and Challenges.” Friedrich’s testimony, about management successes under Magnuson-Stevens, was clear and important. Recreational fishermen ought to check it out.
As Friedrich testified, while no law is perfect, since its reauthorization in 1996, the MSA process has reduced the number of overfished stocks in US waters from 86 to 30. There could hardly be a less ambiguous indication that the MSA process is working for our nation’s fisheries. And there is nothing better for America’s fishermen and coastal communities than robust, sustainable fisheries.
In particular, annual catch limits (ACL’s), concrete rebuilding timelines for depleted stocks, and accountability measures for all stakeholders, are keystones of the MSA process that have been crucial for the recovery and protection of our fisheries. We have reaped the benefit of management under MSA, with many American stocks having now returned to levels of abundance not seen within the lifetimes of most anglers. To a great extent, America’s fisheries are as healthy as they have been in a very long time. We are now living in “the good old days.”