Urge Congress to Protect Our Nation's Fish Populations!

The health of our fisheries is in jeopardy.

Late last year, a key committee in the U.S. House of Representatives voted for legislation – H.R. 200 and H.R. 3588 – which would seriously weaken our nation's primary ocean fisheries management law, the Magnuson Stevens Act.

A cornerstone of U.S. fisheries policy is preventing overfishing by relying on sound science-based annual catch limits. The use of annual catch limits has led to a historically low level of overfishing, affording fishermen greater stability and the ocean ecosystem more protection.

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. The bill would undermine the protections of key conservation laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. Lastly, H.R. 3588 would exempt management of recreational red snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico from the conservation requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and would transfer management responsibility to an untested, state-based approach.

H.R. 200 and H.R. 3588 are extremely shortsighted approaches. If passed, they will take us back several decades, to the day when overfishing and depleted fish populations were chronic problems.

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 and H.R. 3588!
Subject Line: Please oppose H.R. 200 and H.R. 3588

Dear [Representative],

I am writing to ask you to vote against H.R. 200 and H.R. 3588. These bills passed the House Natural Resources Committee in December. The bills significantly weaken 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 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 would jeopardize this leadership. H.R. 200 and H.R. 3588 weaken 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. (H.R. 200)

  • Curbing the use of science-based catch limits, which have proven effective in preventing overfishing (H.R. 200)

  • Complicating and weakening Gulf of Mexico red snapper conservation by establishing additional layers of bureaucracy, exempting its management from current conservation requirements, and transferring management responsibility to an untested state-based system. (H.R. 200 and H.R. 3588)

  • Undermining other conservation laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. (H.R. 200)

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 and H.R. 3588 provide shortsighted approaches that would take us back to the day when overfishing and depleted fish populations were chronic problems. They do not strengthen our fishing economies—these bills weaken them. They 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.

I strongly urge you to Vote NO on H.R. 200 and H.R. 3588.


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