Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization bill draws criticism

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The recreational fishing and boating community is expressing collective disappointment after a saltwater fishing bill in the U.S. House of Representatives failed to address the community’s top priorities.

A reauthorization bill for the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act — the primary law governing U.S. marine fisheries management — did not include many of the top priorities of the recreational saltwater fishing industry.

Key stakeholders had hoped that more of the language in the Morris-Deal Commission report, A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries, would be included in a bill.

However, the bill brought by the House Natural Resources Committee last Thursday — the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act (H.R. 4742) — disappointed many in the recreational fishing and boating community. 

“We were all disappointed, especially here, because we were hopeful this would get pushed a little bit further,” Mercury Marine spokesman Lee Gordon told Soundings. “Unfortunately it seems like [some of the needs of the recreational fishing industry] got put on the back burner. We were cautiously optimistic that the election year wouldn’t factor in, but we’re hearing that played a huge role.”

Since its inception, the Magnuson-Stevens Act has focused primarily on saltwater commercial fishing, Center for Coastal Conservation.

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