Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


January 19, 2007, The Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Bulletin.

President Bush last week (Jan. 12) signed the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006 (HR 5946) into law.


The legislation received broad bipartisan support in Congress and passed the House and Senate in December before Congress adjourned for the year.


"I thank President Bush for signing this legislation vital to sustaining our nation's fisheries," said Senator Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, the legislation's primary sponsor. "The techniques in this measure have been used effectively to protect Alaska's fisheries. This bill extends Alaska's science-based practices to the rest of our country and will allow the development of unique fishery management plans nationwide. Our next step is to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing practices that threaten the world's oceans."


The legislation is an update of the original Magnuson–Stevens Act (MSA), which was originally enacted in 1976, and retains key provisions of the Sustainable Fisheries Act (1996) while making adjustments to the legislation designed to improve national compliance with the Act.


The bill reauthorizes the MSA from Fiscal Year 2007 through Fiscal Year 2013 and contains provisions intended to help improve international fishery management and conservation compliance, with an emphasis on strengthening controls on illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and ensuring other nations provide comparable protections to populations of living marine resources at risk from high seas fishing activities.


Highlights of the Magnuson-Stevens Act:


* Preserves and Strengthens the Regional Fishery Management Councils.


-- Establishes a Council training program open to both new and existing Council members designed to prepare members for complying with legal, scientific, economic, and conflict of interest requirements applicable to the fishery management process.

-- Strengthens and clarifies the MSA's conflict of interest and recusal requirements.

-- Ensures that Council members and Scientific and Statistical Committees (SSCs) disclose any financial arrangements with any other individuals who may have a financial interest in activity over which the Council has jurisdiction.


* Mandates the Use of Allowable Catch Levels to Prevent Overfishing and Preserve Sustainable Harvest


-- Mandates that every fishery management plan contain an annual catch limit at a level such that overfishing does not occur in the fishery.

-- Directs the Councils to follow the recommendations of SCCs in setting catch limits.

-- Requires that fishery management plans include measures to ensure accountability for the overages of harvest levels.


* Establishes National Guidelines for Limited Access Privilege Programs


-- Establishes national guidelines for Limited Access Privilege Programs (LAPPs) for the harvesting of fish. The LAPPs include Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQs) which are expanded to allow for allocation of harvesting privileges to fishing communities or regional fishery associations.

-- Only fisheries that have been operating under a limited access system would be eligible for consideration for management under a LAPP system. All LAPPs would be developed by the Councils and be subject to review by the Secretary of Commerce.

-- Does not provide for the establishment of a separate Processor Quota, but processors would be eligible to hold LAPPs to harvest fish, pursuant to current law, and any decision to allocate privileges to processors would be made in the Council's normal allocation decision making process.

-- Provides for an initial five-year administrative review of each program's compliance with the goals of the program and the MSA and a review at least every seven years after that.


* Improves the Uniformity of Decision Making for Fishery Management Plans and Aligns them with the NEPA Process


-- Authorizes the establishment of a Coordinating Committee comprised of Council Chairs, Vice Chairs, and Executive Directors as a forum to discuss issues relevant to all Councils.

-- Directs the Secretary, with public participation and in consultation with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Regional Fishery Management Councils, to develop one, uniform fishery management-specific environmental review process that conforms National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, analysis, and public input schedules to the timelines appropriate for fishery management decisions under MSA. The intent is to establish one consistent, timely, and predictable regulatory process for fishery management decisions.


* Improves Data Collection for Better Management


-- Authorizes a national cooperative research and management program, which would be implemented on a regional basis to be developed and conducted through partnerships between federal and state managers, commercial and recreational fishing industry participants, and scientists.

-- Priority support would be given for efforts to improve stock assessments, assess bycatch, identify or conserve habitat areas, and collect social and economic data.

-- Provides a mechanism for improving data relating to recreational fisheries by establishing a new national program for the registration of marine recreational fishermen who fish in federal waters or for anadromous species.

-- Establishes a regionally-based program dedicated to the development of technologies and methods to improve the ability of fishery participants to reduce bycatch and associated mortality. The provision includes an outreach mandate to encourage the adoption of new technologies, and also encourages the adoption of bycatch reduction incentives in fishery management plans, such as bycatch quotas. This provision also authorizes projects in cooperation with industry to improve information and technology to reduce and mitigate seabird interactions.


* Increases the Role of Science in Decision Making


The bill strengthens the role of science in Council decision making through a number of provisions.

-- Specifies that the role of the SSCs is to provide their Councils with ongoing scientific advice needed for management decisions, which includes recommendations on establishing annual catch limits that shall not be exceeded.

-- The SSCs are expected to advise the Councils on a variety of other issues, including stock status and health, acceptable biological catch, preventing overfishing, bycatch, achieving rebuilding targets, habitat status, social and economic impacts and sustainability of fishing practices.

-- Requires that SSC appointees be federal, state, academic, or independent experts with strong scientific or technical credentials and experience and authorizes stipends for non-government SSC members.


* Strengthens U.S. Leadership in International Conservation and Management


IUU fishing, as well as expanding fleets and high bycatch levels, are threats to sustainable fisheries worldwide. The bill includes provisions to strengthen the ability of international fishery management organizations and the United States to ensure appropriate enforcement and compliance with conservation and management measures in high seas fisheries.


-- Requires the Secretary of Commerce to undertake activities to promote improved international compliance and monitoring of high seas fisheries, provide reports to Congress on progress in reducing IUU fishing, promoting international cooperation, and strengthening the ability of regional fishery management organizations to combat IUU and other harmful fishing practices.

-- Requires the Secretary of Commerce to define IUU, but specifies that the definition must include violations of quotas or other rules established under a international agreement, as well as overfishing or use of certain damaging gear in high seas areas with no international or regional conservation and management measures.

-- Allows for the use of measures authorized under the High Seas Driftnet Act to force compliance in cases where regional or international fishery management organizations are unable to stop IUU fishing or excessive bycatch.


* Funding


The bill authorizes $338 million annually with a three percent annual increase for implementation of activities under the MSA.


* Western Pacific Region


--The bill includes provisions crucial to the long-term sustainability of tuna and other high seas stocks so important to Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, as well as a program to help increase marine education and technical skills in the region.

-- The bill's strong negotiation, enforcement, and compliance measures will help end illegal and wasteful fishing activities on the high seas, as well as improve the capacity of our international fisheries organizations to manage them cooperatively.

--Provisions dealing with working with other countries to conserve  shared marine resources which will help level the playing field and reduce the unfair conservation burdens on U.S. high seas fleets.

--The bill also contains long-awaited legislation to implement the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention, a critical step in ending overfishing of bigeye and other tuna species in the Pacific.

--The bill also contains provisions that that promote marine education, training, and assistance opportunities for Western Pacific communities and underrepresented groups.


The full text of the bill can be found at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/magact/


Home Contact


              Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2006, All Rights Reserved