Changing Planet

The Bottom Line: Historic Anniversary for Fishing in America’s Oceans

It’s hard to get politicians to agree on anything these days. But five years ago this month, President George W. Bush, flanked by Republican and Democratic members of Congress, signed the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA).

This moment of bipartisanship was good news for our nation’s marine species and those who rely on them for a living. Lawmakers agreed to both stop and prevent overfishing by incorporating strong, new conservation measures into law, namely the requirement to set science-based, enforceable catch limits on all federally managed ocean fish.

Many stakeholders had insisted this could never be done, and if you look at the history of the MSA, you will understand the skepticism. We can thank the foresight and leadership of the White House and members of Congress, particularly President Bush and the late Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, for this accomplishment. They made sure that the MSA reauthorization included firm deadlines for mechanisms to end overfishing. These requirements drove managers from the National Marine Fisheries Service and the eight regional fishery management councils to work together to get the job done.

Now, five years later, we are on the cusp of having science-based limits around the country that guard against overfishing. While this will be a truly historic management milestone, we must remain vigilant to ensure that our stocks continue down the path toward long-term sustainability.

As you read the news about the latest debates in Washington, just remember that there are times when we can come together for the common good.

Let’s keep working for the well-being of our nation’s ocean fish populations and fishermen by continuing to support the MSA’s conservation requirements.

Lee Crockett joined The Pew Charitable Trusts in June 2007 as director of Federal Fisheries Policy. As Ddirector, U.S. Oceans, he led Pew’s efforts to establish policies to end overfishing and promote ecosystem-based fisheries management in the United States under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the federal law that governs ocean fish management. As director, Crockett oversees all of Pew’s U.S. fisheries campaigns. These include efforts in the Northeast, South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Caribbean, and the Pacific. Before joining Pew, Crockett was executive director of the Marine Fish Conservation Network, the largest national coalition dedicated exclusively to promoting the sustainable management of ocean fish. Under his leadership, the campaign helped efforts to reauthorize and strengthen the MSA. Previously, he was a fishery biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service, leading agency efforts to protect essential fish habitat. He also served as a staff member of the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, working on a variety of fisheries, environmental and boating safety issues. Crockett holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in biological oceanography from the University of Connecticut. Before college, he served in the U.S. Coast Guard. He’s also an avid angler who enjoys fishing the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.
  • Shawn Dochtermann

    To associate Ted Stevens without labeling him as an economic terrorist would be incorrect. The MSA reauthorization was full of new laws to privatize US fisheries to give specialized rights to a few elite few and remove fair and equitable compensation from the boots on deck fishermen. Catch Shares are what Wal-Mart wants, so they can own the rights and make the fishermen sharecroppers.

  • […] NOAA’sNational Marine Fisheries Service to chart the progress of stocks managed under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. That law was revamped by Congress in 1996, in an attempt to address plunging fish populations […]

  • […] NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service to chart the progress of stocks managed under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. That law was revamped by Congress in 1996, in an attempt to address plunging fish populations […]

  • […] NOAA‘sNational Marine Fisheries Service to chart the progress of stocks managed under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. That law was revamped by Congress in 1996, in an attempt to address plunging fish populations […]

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