On June 26, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act (H.R. 200) is expected to be debated on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Introduced by former Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Co-Chair Congressman Don Young (AK), the bill seeks to provide amendments to the Magnuson-Steven’s Act that will, among other changes to the law, recognize and address the significance of recreational fisheries under the nation’s primary fisheries law. After several revisions to find bipartisan agreement, all four Members of the House leadership of the CSC have signed on as bill co-sponsors.
“The recent changes to H.R. 200 embodies the spirit of working in a bipartisan fashion to find common ground that results in good legislation and long-term solutions,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President Jeff Crane. “We sincerely appreciate the leadership of Congressmen Duncan, Green, Scott and Veasey for supporting common-sense solutions to problems for the nation’s saltwater anglers under federal fisheries management.”
With the provisions of the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act (H.R. 2023) rolled into H.R. 200 during committee markup, the bill offers alternative management approaches that implement catch limits based on metrics rooted in management being used by state fisheries managers on inland and coastal fisheries, by management commissions and federal migratory bird managers. It also helps bring recreational data collection into the 21st century by promoting the consideration of modern reporting systems, including from smartphone apps, which some state agencies are beginning to implement, as well as incorporating data from non-federal sources into stock assessments.
“It is unfortunate that some are construing the ability for the regional fishery management councils to use alternative management tools as somehow rolling back annual catch limit (ACL’s) requirements,” said CSF Senior Director of Fisheries Programs Chris Horton. “In reality, the bill simply allows the councils to have the ability to set ACL’s using some other metric than hard pound quotas based on projections - which are from data often several years old. That’s more back of the envelope science than the best available science when it comes to recreational fisheries, which are responding to current abundance.”
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