The House Rules Committee members heard testimony on H.R. 200 on Monday, a bill that seeks to amend the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). They will take up the bill again today and it could go to the full House tomorrow for a vote. However, the House is embroiled on immigration issues which could delay a vote until after 4th of July. Don Young (R.-Alaska) testified that federal control of fisheries has not worked in every area and the bill provides for flexibility in the law called for by communities and Fishery Management Councils without hurting fish stocks. Jared Huffman, (D.-Calif.), testified against H.R. 200 noting the lack of bi-partisan compromise on the bill. He expressed concern about the lack of provisions for science-based catch limits and loopholes on critical provisions that would weaken the law that has led to drastic improvements in fish stocks in the United States.
Congress has been debating re-authorizing and amending the MSA, the law that governs federal fisheries management, 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 44 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.
Link to the hearing: https://rules.house.gov/video/rules-committee-hearing-hr-200-2083-6157