The Senate Commerce Committee Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee convened a Magnuson-Stevens Act re-authorization hearing focusing on fisheries science on Tuesday, October 24, 2017. The hearing, a fourth of the series, focused on the state of our nation’s fisheries and the science that supports sustainable management.
The witnesses included two AFS members, Ray Hilborn, Ph.D., professor at the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences and Michael Jones, Ph.D., professor at Michigan State University’s Quantitative Fisheries Center.
While AFS does not yet have a position on the proposals for amending Magnuson-Stevens, AFS officers recently identified this as a policy priority for the coming year. Discussions are underway in the current Congress that call for re-authorizing the law and amending it to provide additional flexibility. The last re-authorization in 2007, required NOAA Fisheries to end current and prevent future overfishing by adopting a precautionary approach that relies on scientific stock assessments to set annual catch limits. In a relatively short time, NOAA Fisheries has recovered 41 previously overfished stocks using this approach to fisheries management. Despite the successful rebuilding of many overfished stocks, both commercial and recreational fishers are frustrated by what they perceive to be an inflexible management regime that limits harvest to these more abundant stocks.
“The involvement of AFS in the re-authorization debate will focus on ensuring that proposals for changes in the law are informed by good science, sound management strategies, and well-supported policies,” said Steve McMullin, President of the American Fisheries Society. “I am calling for a special committee to evaluate existing provisions of the law and the proposals for flexibility and will propose, to the extent possible, scientifically-based solutions for federal fisheries managers to be able to maximize sustainable harvest without sacrificing conservation gains realized over the last few decades.”
Please contact Drue Winters ([email protected]) if you are interested in serving on the special committee.
Witness testimony, opening statements, and a video of the hearing are available here. We’ll be bringing you highlights of the hearing on the AFS website.