A new marine fisheries policy was approved by the AFS Governing Board Atlantic City in August to inform the proposed Congressional re-authorization and amendment of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Management Act, the federal law that governs fisheries management in offshore waters. A special committee of prominent marine fisheries experts led by co-chairs, Tom Miller, University of Maryland Fisheries Professor and Director of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and Cynthia Jones, Immediate Past President of the Marine Fisheries Section and Professor at Old Dominion University, developed science-based recommendations to inform policy-makers as they seek to revise the law. The committee focused its advice on four key areas: Best Scientific Information Available, Catch Limits and Rebuilding, Habitat and Ecosystems, and Adapting to Environmental Change. See the summary below or download PDFs of the summary and the full report.
American Fisheries Society Scientific Recommendations
on Reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act
Best Scientific Information Available
- The American Fisheries Society (AFS) strongly endorses continued reliance on Best Scientific Information Available Standard (BSIA), as a best practice in managing the nation’s fisheries.
- AFS is concerned that data from self-reported sources (i.e. mobile technologies) are not sufficiently reliable to estimate catch without a valid sampling frame and should not be mandated in legislation.
- AFS supports the inclusion of citizen science into fisheries management and encourages the development of innovative survey sampling methods to enable collection of reliable and unbiased data from anglers.
- AFS believes science-based management is the cornerstone of fisheries management and recommends the continued separation of scientific and socioeconomic decision-making. AFS supports the requirement that the Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) must be less than the Overfishing Limit (OFL).
- AFS supports maintaining the Annual Catch Limit (ACL) requirement for recreational fisheries, but recommends a flexible approach to defining “Optimal Yield” in individual fisheries.
- Revisions to the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) should allow for adaptable and responsive management to account for new developments in science and management.
- AFS supports increased flexibility in MSA with regard to setting OFLs, ABCs, and ACLs for data-poor stocks.
- AFS urges innovative approaches to managing mixed-stock fisheries and encourages exploration of emerging technology to better manage for “choke” species.
- Rebuilding timelines should be based on the biology of the stock and AFS supports adaptability and flexibility in transitioning into and out of a period of overfishing or rebuilding.
- AFS supports the call of the National Research Council to focus on management of exploitation rates in a rebuilding context rather than abundance (biomass).
- Using harvest control rules that have been simulation tested in a management strategy evaluation to reduce fishing mortality before a species becomes overfished could eliminate the need for rebuilding plans and could reduce the need for accountability measures.
Habitat and Ecosystems
- AFS recommends continued focus on habitat and Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management as ways of improving stability and value of the nation’s fisheries.
- Clearer policy guidance regarding the objectives of EBFM is necessary for it to be more widely used.
Adapting to Environmental Change
- Precautionary catch limits and realistic rebuilding timeframes will be necessary to account for uncertainty and change in the climate and ecosystem.
- Future re-authorizations should focus on adaptability and flexibility to reflect the fact that fisheries productivity is changing.
- Resources must be directed to monitor and evaluate the effects of climate-related factors on population structure and biological rates and resulting information should be incorporated into stock assessments and scientific advice.
- AFS recommends active outreach by NMFS and the Councils to encourage fishermen to actively participate in data collection, assessment, and management.
Latest News about the Magnuson-Stevens Act
The Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act, known as the “Modern Fish Act,” or S. 1520, passed the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in late December and was signed by President Trump just before the end of the year. The bill seeks to address frustration with federal management of recreational fishing, stemming from shortened or […]
On October 11, AFS Policy Director Drue Winters shepherded marine fisheries experts, Drs. Tom Miller and Cynthia Jones, around D.C. for robust discussions with NOAA Fisheries and Congressional staff on policy considerations for re-authorizing and amending the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA). Context: Over the last several years, Congress has made attempts to amend the MSA. In […]
A new marine fisheries policy was approved by the AFS Governing Board Atlantic City in August to inform the proposed Congressional re-authorization and amendment of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Management Act, the federal law that governs fisheries management in offshore waters. A special committee of prominent marine fisheries experts led by co-chairs, Tom Miller, University of […]
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 […]
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Wednesday, February 28, at 10:00 a.m. to consider S. 1520, Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 and a number of nominations. Sponsors of the Modern Fish Act include Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Deb Fisher (R-Neb.), Jim Inhofe […]
By Steve McMullin, AFS President President Barack Obama once famously said, “Elections have consequences.” The first year of the Trump Administration clearly demonstrates the truth of that statement, and the consequences for fisheries and the environment are potentially “huge.” The Trump Administration’s approach to science and the environment during its first year in office included […]
This Week on the Hill: Markup of Magnuson-Stevens and Other Fisheries Bills, Hearing on National Ocean Policy
Tuesday, December 12 The House Committee on Natural Resources has scheduled a markup on 15 bills including the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act beginning on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. in 1324 Longworth House Office Building. The committee will convene for opening statements only and will reconvene the following day. Tuesday, December 12 […]
In recent months, talk of offshore aquaculture has been buzzing in the news and in Washington. While finfish and shellfish culture has flourished in state waters for more than a century, offshore finfish aquaculture has not kept pace. There are currently no large-scale commercial finfish net-pen aquaculture operations in federal waters. Congress and federal agencies […]
On October 27, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council announced open commercial and recreational fisheries for Red Snapper. The recreational season opened in federal waters of the South Atlantic for two consecutive three-day weekends, November 3-5 and November 10-12. The commercial fishery opened November 2 with a 75-pound (gutted weight) trip limit and no minimum […]
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 […]
As Commerce chief, Secretary Wilbur Ross’ portfolio includes oversight of NOAA, but it is rather unusual for a cabinet level official to wade into federal fisheries management decisions. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS or NOAA Fisheries), a unit within NOAA is charged with management of the nation’s fisheries. With the help of the six regional […]
House Natural Resources Subcommittee to Discuss MSA Amendments On Tuesday, September 26, 2017, the Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans will hold a legislative hearing on the following bills: H.R. 200 (Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska), To amend the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to provide flexibility for fishery managers and stability for fishermen, and for […]
Sport Fishing magazine interviewed Chris Oliver, who was recently named assistant administrator of NOAA Fisheries. The interview touches on topics such as commercial vs. recreational fisheries management strategies, Magnuson-Stevens Act re-authorization, NOAA’s placement in the Department of Commerce, management of Red Snapper, FY 2018 budget cuts, offshore aquaculture, and catch shares in recreational fisheries. Read the […]
On September 12, the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard will hold a hearing on the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). Panelists will talk about the successes and challenges of MSA from the perspective of commercial, charter, and recreational fishermen. The Committee hearing is scheduled for […]
On August 1, the Senate Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard held the first of a series of hearings on the successes and challenges of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation Act (MSA). Chris Oliver, the Assistant Administrator for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) testified before the subcommittee in support of greater […]
On July 19, the House Natural Resources Committee’s Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee held an oversight hearing to explore regional successes and challenges associated with federal fisheries management under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). Stakeholders from various regions testified on specific management challenges they have faced, and highlighted reforms that could be […]
This week, AFS staff attended Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW), an annual conference convened by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Each year, CHOW brings together more than 600 national and global policymakers, scientists, scholars, businesses and conservation leaders to address pressing science, conservation, and management issues facing our oceans and Great Lakes. A Congressional Roundtable […]
NOAA Fisheries announced final revisions to the guidelines that federal managers will use as they routinely update the nation’s marine fisheries plans. The revised federal fishery management guidelines, known as the National Standard 1 guidelines of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, are intended to provide more flexibility and be more effective in ending […]