The health of our fisheries is in jeopardy.
The United States is a leader in fisheries management, but a bill that is expected to be voted on by the House of Representatives in upcoming days would change that. H.R. 200 would significantly weaken the Magnuson Stevens Act, the law that governs how our fish populations are managed. It would compromise the basis of the system that has led to our nation's recent successful turnaround in conserving fish stocks.
Preventing overfishing by relying on sound, science-based annual catch limits is central to U.S. fisheries policy, affording fishermen greater stability and the ocean ecosystem more protection. The use of annual catch limits is a prime reason the number of U.S. fish populations subject to overfishing is at near record lows.
However, H.R. 200 will exempt many fish stocks from having catch limits, leading to an increased risk of overfishing. It also adds broad loopholes to rebuilding overfished populations as soon as possible.
Help ensure that fishermen, coastal communities, oceans and future generations benefit from stable, abundant fish populations. Urge your representative to vote No on H.R. 200!
I am writing to ask you to vote against H.R. 200 — a bill that is scheduled to be voted on this week. H.R. 200 significantly reduces the health of U.S. oceans and fisheries by increasing the risk of overfishing, which occurs when fish are caught faster than they can reproduce, and by delaying the rebuilding of vulnerable commercial and recreational fish populations to more sustainable levels.
Thanks to the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), as improved with overwhelming bi-partisan support in 1996 and 2006, the United States is recognized as a global leader in fisheries management. H.R. 200 jeopardizes the MSA and ocean conservation in several ways, including:
- Creating broad exemptions to the requirement to set reasonable timelines for rebuilding a depleted fish population, as well as allowing such timelines to be extended out indefinitely. Longer time periods for rebuilding means less stability for coastal communities that rely upon these stocks.
- Curbing the use of science-based catch limits, which are designed to prevent overfishing.
- Weakening commercial and recreational Gulf of Mexico red snapper conservation by establishing additional layers of bureaucracy and transferring more recreational management responsibility to an untested state-based system outside the scope of the MSA.
Conserving America's ocean fish makes good economic and environmental sense. The law has been reauthorized — and strengthened — several times, and we should be looking to build on that progress. The law should be updated to reflect the changing needs of marine ecosystems and coastal economies, instead of taking fisheries management backwards.
H.R. 200 provides shortsighted approaches that would take us back to the day when overfishing and depleted fish populations were chronic problems. It does not strengthen our fisheries — it weakens them. It will reverse recent hard-earned gains the U.S. has made towards more stable, abundant fish populations that benefit fishermen, coastal communities, oceans, and future generations.
[your comment here]
I strongly urge you to Vote NO on H.R. 200.