cosponsors fisheries rebuilding flexibility bill
Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., has joined New Jersey Congressman Frank
Pallone in introducing bipartisan legislation to give federal fisheries
managers increased flexibility in rebuilding U.S. fisheries.
The bill – H.R. 3061, the Flexibility and Access in Rebuilding American
Fisheries Act – was introduced in late September.
H.R. 3061 would amend the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management Act to
allow the 10-year time period for rebuilding fisheries to be extended
under certain common-sense circumstances. In allowing such flexibility,
the bill would provide for timely restoration of healthy fisheries
while also preventing fishermen from being put out of business
because of the rigid timelines contained in the Magnuson Act.
The existing statutory 10-year rebuilding deadline is not based on
science and has become increasingly harmful to the livelihoods of
fishermen across the country.
For example, in North Carolina the commercial and recreational black
sea bass fisheries were closed prematurely this year when the annual
catch limits specified in the South Atlantic Council’s 10-year
rebuilding plan were hit.
If H.R. 3061 became law, fisheries managers would have the flexibility
to increase catch limits for species like black sea bass.
Jones is a long-time advocate for rebuilding flexibility, having
introduced the first rebuilding flexibility bill in 2007.
“The Magnuson Act's arbitrary rebuilding schedules are harming
America’s commercial and recreational fishermen and the families,
businesses and communities they support,” Jones said. “In North
Carolina, fishermen’s access to economically important fisheries –
including black sea bass and other fisheries in the snapper-grouper
complex – are being unnecessarily restricted due to the current
rebuilding mandates. Reasonable flexibility can provide much
needed relief while still rebuilding fish stocks.
“I do not understand why in this economy the government would require
rebuilding of a fish stock in 10 years even when that causes widespread
economic dislocation, and when if given a few more years, the fish
stock could be rebuilt with minimal economic hardship to fishermen. The
lack of common sense here is stunning, and North Carolina fishermen
should not have to bear the burden,” Jones said.
H.R. 3061 would allow fisheries managers to extend the 10-year
rebuilding timeline if, among other things:
-The biology of the stock, other environmental conditions, or
management measures under an international agreement in which the
United States participates dictates otherwise.
The cause of the fishery decline is outside the jurisdiction of the
Council or the rebuilding program cannot be effective only by limiting
A substantial change is made to the biomass rebuilding target for the
stock of fish concerned after the rebuilding plan has taken effect.
It is necessary to provide for the sustained participation of fishing
communities or to minimize impacts on such communities, provided there
is evidence that the stock is on a positive rebuilding trend.