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 PRESS RELEASE: House Resource  Committee 3/29/06

Pombo, Frank and Young Introduce
Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Bill

Bipartisan legislation would strengthen regional management of America's fisheries

Washington - Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-Calif.) and Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Don Young (R-Alaska) today announced the introduction of H.R. 5018, the American Fisheries Management and Marine-Life Enhancement Act.

This legislation would reauthorize the thirty-year-old Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which expired in 1999, and established the eight Regional Fishery Management Councils (Councils) responsible for the conservation and sustainable management of America's fisheries.

"The reauthorization of Magnuson-Stevens is long overdue, and I'm proud of the work my friend Barney Frank and I put forth to introduce this strong bipartisan bill," Chairman Pombo said. "This legislation incorporates and builds upon the U.S. Ocean Commission's recommendations to provide long term balance, sustainability and protection for America's fisheries."

The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy in 2004 released its recommendations on oceans sustainability and security, including several policy suggestions regarding the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. H.R. 5018 embraces many of the Commissions' recommendations to Congress, including an increased emphasis on scientific advice.

"I appreciate Congressman Pombo's willingness to work with me, as the Representative of one of the major fisheries in the United States, on legislation that strikes the appropriate balance," Rep. Frank said. "I believe this bill provides the best achievable framework for the House in our efforts to ensure that we have a fishing industry that is environmentally sound, economically viable, and continues to provide a vital source of healthy food at reasonable prices for consumers."

Key components of the legislation include the following:

  • Requires each of the eight Councils to set annual catch limits at or below the Acceptable Biological Catch level as recommended by the Council's Science and Statistical Committee;
  • Authorizes Councils to develop incentives for reducing bycatch;
  • Includes provisions to protect seabirds and reduce seabird interactions with fishing gear both domestically and internationally;
  • Includes funding to develop gear technology that will reduce bycatch and the incidences of seabird interactions, as well as protect habitat;
  • Clarifies that Councils may use time/area closures and gear restrictions as a management tool;
  • Provides authority and guidance for the development of Limited Access Privilege Programs and includes the authorization for Councils to include fishing community allocations and regional fishery association allocations;
  • Gives the Secretary and the Councils the authority to create cooperative research projects
  • Changes the vessel capacity reduction program authority to require retired vessels will not be used on the high seas or in any foreign fisheries;
  • Includes provisions to acquire better recreational harvest data;
  • Adds new funds for socio-economic data collection activities;
  • Requires independent and transparent peer review;
  • Requires training for new Council members and;
  • Requires Councils to meet two new requirements similar to National Environmental Policy Act requirements.

For More Information on H.R. 5018 and Bill Text, Click Here




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