Environmental Policy News

Legislation Re-Introduced to Update Federal Fisheries Management

Representatives Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries, James Moylan (R-Guam-AL), Ed Case (D-HI-01), and Mary Peltola (D-AK-AL) re-introduced Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act, legislation to update and reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the primary law governing federal fisheries management and conservation that has made the US a global leader in sustainable fisheries.

This bipartisan legislation is the culmination of a years-long process Rep. Huffman led to getting stakeholder input, including a nationwide listening tour and release of a discussion draft for feedback—part of his ongoing effort to foster a uniquely transparent, inclusive, science-based approach to updating this important law governing fisheries in American waters.

“Whether it’s the seafood we eat, time spent on the water as recreational anglers, or local economies supported by working waterfronts, communities coast-to-coast depend on healthy oceans and fisheries. Our main tool for managing these resources has been effective for decades; but new approaches are necessary in this era of climate change, technological advancements, and increasing ocean use,” said Rep. Huffman. “Right from its inception, our process has been one of the most deliberative, transparent efforts to reauthorize the MSA. Through our stakeholder-driven, science-based approach, we have crafted legislation that rises to the challenges of the 21st Century and includes critical updates to meet the new challenges at hand. With the Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act, we can strengthen fishing communities and ensure the US remains the standard-bearer of sustainable fisheries management well into the future.”

“I am proud to be co-leading the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This is an extraordinary chance for a territorial delegate to ensure that issues facing our Pacific fisheries are heard loud and clear,” stated Delegate Moylan. “This bipartisan legislation will ensure that America’s fisheries are set up for success in the years to come.”

“I’m proud to join Ranking Member Rep. Huffman, Representative Peltola, and Delegate Moylan in re-introducing this landmark reauthorization of our nation’s Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act,” said Rep. Case. “This reauthorization provides critical updates to ensure the long-term sustainability of our fisheries by integrating climate change as a critical consideration. I’m especially pleased that this bill includes significant reforms to promote accountability, transparency, and representation for our nation’s fisheries management councils. These councils are charged with the stewardship of our fisheries, a precious natural resource that all Americans have a vital interest in protecting for long-term sustainability. These are long overdue and necessary reforms to ensure long-term public trust in the work that these councils are doing on behalf of our nation.”

“It is long past time for us to modernize and update MSA. Alaskans know how important it is to keep our fish stocks healthy, and I want to thank Rep. Huffman for his continued leadership on this issue. I look forward to a robust and overdue discussion on how we can protect our nation's fisheries for the next generation,” said Rep. Peltola.

In an effort to include as many opinions and viewpoints as possible, Rep. Huffman and Rep. Case held eight listening sessions and covered seven management regions on their nationwide fisheries listening tour. They heard from 80 different experts and stakeholders, in addition to public comments from dozens of members of the public in person and online. Many of the issues raised during the listening tour are addressed in the bill, such as climate change and shifting stocks; improving science, using new technologies, and modernizing fisheries data systems; supporting fishing communities, creating a working waterfront program, increasing seafood marketing, and encouraging cooperation between industry and managers; making sure management doesn’t move backward on gains made in rebuilding and reducing overfishing; giving more teeth to essential fish habitat consultation and removing loopholes for bycatch management; and increasing accountability, transparency and stakeholder participation in fisheries management. Several bipartisan pieces of legislation and provisions that were in previous MSA legislation are also included in the bill.

This comprehensive and inclusive approach continues to be an iterative process. Representative Huffman and the co-leads are committed to fostering a transparent, deliberative, and science-based process that prioritizes listening to stakeholder input and adapting to evolving needs.

Additional Resources

  • Text of the bill can be found here.
  • A one-pager of the bill can be found here.
  • A section by section of the bill can be found here.
  • Redline edits to the MSA, as proposed by the bill, can be found here.

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