Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Weakening Magnuson or Adding Flexibility?

It appears that different fishing interests are holding hands again. From the Cape May County Herald:

Members of the recreational, charter, and commercial fishing industries, representing over 100 fishing organizations, met with Members of Congress and congressional staff in support of bipartisan legislation which promotes healthy populations of fisheries and fishing communities.

H.R. 5425, the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fishery Act of 2008, co-sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Henry Brown (R-SC), Barney Frank (D-MA), and Walter Jones (R-NC) would provide a measure of flexibility into the management process without compromising conservation goals.

At present, the law requires a total rebuilding of the stock of certain “overfished” species within 10 years, often requiring drastic reductions in fishing quotas and in some cases a complete or effective shut-down of the fishery.

Here is a summary of the bill from the Congressional Research Service:
Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2008 - Amends the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to require fishery management plans, amendments, or regulations for overfished fisheries to specify a time period for ending overfishing and rebuilding the fishery that is as short as practicable (currently, as short as possible). Modifies the exceptions to the requirement that such period not exceed ten years.
Requires consideration, in evaluating progress to end overfishing and rebuild overfished stocks, of factors other than commercial and recreational fishing.
Requires, when the Secretary of Commerce extends the period under specified provisions, that the maximum rebuilding time not exceed the sum of the initial ten-year period, the expected time to rebuild the stock absent any fishing mortality and under prevailing environmental conditions, and the mean generation time of the stock.

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