June 3, 2015
House passes fisheries reform bill
Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1335 – the
Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in
Fisheries Management Act. The bill would reauthorize and reform
the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which is the law governing fisheries
management in federal waters throughout the United States.
H.R. 1335 passed the House by a vote of 225 to 152. The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration.
“Eastern North Carolina fishermen deserve the reforms this bill would
provide,” said U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. “Fishermen have
unnecessarily sacrificed for years because of flaws in the existing
law. If we can get more flexibility in rebuilding fisheries, and
more transparency and accountability in management, everybody
wins. Fishing stocks get recovered, and the jobs and economic
activity associated with fishing can be restored.”
Congressman Jones is the author of two of H.R. 1335’s core provisions
to improve flexibility and transparency in fisheries management.
On flexibility, the bill included language Congressman Jones originally introduced in 2007
as H.R. 4087 – the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries
Act. That language would amend the Magnuson-Stevens 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 ensuring that fishermen are not put out of business because of the
rigid timelines currently in the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
On transparency, the bill included language from legislation Congressman Jones originally introduced in 2011
as H.R. 2753 – the Fishery Management Transparency and Accountability
Act. That language would bring sunlight to the proceedings of
federal fisheries managers by requiring federal Regional Fishery
Management Councils to broadcast their meetings live over the
Internet. It would also require transcripts and video/audio
recordings of council and Science and Statistical Committee (SSC)
meetings to be made freely available to the public. Congressman Jones
was alerted to the need for this language after hearing from fishermen
who wanted to follow the councils’ proceedings but could not do so due
to the time and expense involved with attending in person.
H.R. 1335 also includes language to rein in catch-share programs on the
Atlantic Coast. Congressman Jones has championed this issue for
many years through successful efforts to
strip federal funding for new catch share programs, which destroy
fishing jobs and communities. The bill includes language that
would require a majority of permit holders in a fishery to vote for a
new program before it could be imposed by the National Marine Fisheries
Service. Fishermen in the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic regions
do not currently have that right.