Urge Congress to Stop Threatening U.S. Fish Populations
The Magnuson-Stevens Act — our primary law governing management of ocean fish — is under attack. We're in danger of losing hard-earned gains and sacrificing the long-term sustainability of ocean fish populations. H.R. 1335, a bill advancing in Congress would create exemptions from using science-based catch limits for many species, establish loopholes that would undermine the rebuilding of depleted populations, and weaken important laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
The U.S. is making strides in preventing overfishing, restoring fish stocks, and ensuring that science drives fishery management decisions. Since 2000, the number of fish populations subject to overfishing has declined by nearly two-thirds. And 37 once-depleted populations, including South Atlantic black sea bass and Pacific lingcod, have been rebuilt to healthy levels. This progress wouldn't have been possible without the conservation provisions in the Magnuson-Stevens Act that H.R. 1335 would weaken.
Our oceans face threats, including habitat destruction and changing conditions. We need policies that take a big-picture approach and address these threats on fish populations to benefit fishermen, coastal communities, and oceans — not a bill that rolls back years of progress.
The House of Representatives plans to vote on this bill as early as June 1. Urge your Congressperson to oppose H.R. 1335 and support a stronger future for our oceans and those who depend on them.
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Dear member of Congress,
I am writing to urge you to oppose H.R. 1335, a bill that would undermine management of ocean fish by weakening the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. H.R. 1335 would put at risk the health of our oceans and the fisheries they support. In recent years, the United States has made progress in preventing overfishing and in rebuilding depleted fish populations. But we have more work to do to ensure sustainable populations for the future.
H.R. 1335 would establish loopholes that would make it difficult to rebuild fish populations to sustainable levels in a reasonable time period. It would create exemptions from setting science-based catch limits for many fish populations that are important to ocean food webs. The bill also would undercut landmark environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Rather than weaken the law, we need to strengthen it so that future generations will have abundant fish populations. That means a more comprehensive approach that protects important fish habitats; minimizes wasteful bycatch (the incidental catch of nontarget species); improves management of the small forage fish that provide critical food for larger fish and other ocean wildlife; proceeds with caution to make sure that new fisheries are sustainable from the start; and uses fishery ecosystem plans as a blueprint for addressing the 21st-century challenges facing oceans.
I urge you to reject H.R. 1335 because it would significantly weaken our nation's fishery management law and undermine efforts to ensure sustainable fish populations. Instead, please support measures to adopt a more comprehensive fishery management approach that would support U.S. fishermen, small businesses, and healthy oceans.
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