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Entries in Magnuson-Stevens (24)

Friday
May302014

Magnuson-Stevens Needs to Address Goals, Needs of Recreational Anglers

Photo by Robert Montgomery

As Congress considers changes in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), a coalition of angling advocate groups says that not enough consideration is being given to recreational fishing.

“Since its inception, the Magnuson-Stevens Act has focused primarily on commercial fisheries to the detriment of the nation’s 11 million recreational fishermen and the nearly half a million jobs they support,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation.

“Revising the law in a way that incorporates the goals and needs of anglers is long overdue. Our community has put forward the policy changes that will set the foundation for an effective saltwater fisheries management system, but we need Congress’ help by enacting these common sense and non-partisan policies.”

The recommendations offered by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, commonly known as the Morris-Deal Commission, include the following:

  • Establishing a national policy for recreational fishing
  • Adopting a revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management
  • Allocating marine fisheries for the greatest benefit to the nation
  • Creating reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines
  • Codifying a process for cooperative management
  • Managing for the forage base

MSA is the primary law governing management of marine fisheries, and critics argue that On May 30, the House Natural Resources Committee approved a reauthorization bill, H.R. 4742, also entitled the “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act.”

 “While we appreciate Chairman Doc Hasting’s interest and efforts in Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization, we would like to have seen more done in this bill to address the needs of the recreational fishing community,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association.

“This bill includes several provisions that we support, such as easing the strict implementation of annual catch limits and improving stock assessments for data poor fisheries, but unfortunately our top priorities are not meaningfully addressed.”

“In addition to overlooking the priorities of the Morris-Deal Commission, we are also disappointed that the federal management failure with red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico is not resolved in H.R. 4742,” added Patrick Murray, president of the Coastal Conservation Association.

“A comprehensive overhaul of red snapper management is the only way to get us out of this mess. It’s vital that Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization addresses this management train-wreck by transferring Gulf red snapper management over to the states, which are much better equipped to successfully manage this important fishery.”

After passing out of committee, H.R. 4742 now awaits a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. The Senate Commerce Committee is expected to unveil its Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization bill in the near future. With limited floor time before the November elections, many experts believe that full Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization may not occur until the next session of Congress.

“We understand that Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization likely has a long road ahead before a final bill gets signed into law, so we are hopeful that working with our friends in Congress, we can get the recreational fishing and boating community’s priorities addressed,” said Angers.

“We’ve been waiting a long time to bring focus toward improving saltwater recreational fisheries management, and there’s too much at stake to let this reauthorization pass without making the necessary changes that will establish a management system that works for – not against – recreational fishermen.”

Thursday
May292014

Magnuson-Stevens Needs More Flexibility

“One of the key messages the Committee has heard is that while the 2006/2007 amendments to the Act were good, those requirements have been hard to achieve in some regions without significant economic pain and that some level of flexibility is necessary.”

That’s an assessment of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act by Chariman Doc Hastings of Washington State, as the House Natural Resources Committee considers its reauthorization and improvement via H.R. 4742, also known as the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act.

Advocates for both recreational and commercial fishing have been critical of the legislation intended to better conserve and management saltwater fisheries. They acknowledge its good intent, but argue that it has unnecessarily limited participation and harvest

“This debate today isn’t just about the use of a natural resource – it is about providing a sustainable source of protein as well as providing economic vitality to coastal communities,” he continued.

“In some regions of the country, fishing communities are struggling. A report from NOAA stated that groundfish revenues 'fell in 2012 in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island with Massachusetts and New Hampshire seeing a four-year low in groundfish revenues.'

“In New Bedford alone, the value of groundfish landed dropped from $31 million in 2011 to $19 million in 2013. The report went on to state that the number of active vessels dropped from 916 vessels in 2009 to 764 vessels in 2012 and of the 764 active vessels only 401 took a groundfish trip in 2012.

“And in the Gulf of Mexico, the recreational harvest of red snapper in Federal waters is down to just 9 days despite encouraging reports on the health of the resource.”

Go here to learn more.

Friday
May092014

Halibut Fishery Casualty of Catch Shares

One of the reasons that I founded this website back in 2011 was to warn against Big Government attempts to restrict/prohibit recreational fishing. The National Ocean Council, which will “zone” uses of oceans, coastal waters, and, eventually inland, is one of the cornerstones. The other is Catch Shares, which privatizes a public resource, limiting participation.

To learn more just do a search for those topics on this site and you will learn plenty.

I haven’t written about either for awhile. But Brian Bondioli recently penned a great letter in response to this article.  Thanks to the Florida Guides Association for alerting me to this.

Here’s the letter:

The privatization of the public resources through catch shares is a bad deal for everybody and everything. Here in AK, catch shares have resulted in hostility, animosity, and violence in our communities. Furthermore, and most importantly, catch shares have NOT resulted in a healthy sustainable halibut resource. They have allowed the commercial fishing fleet to absolutely destroy what was the last great fishery in the US.

The political energy of the Commercially dominated (98% comfish/2% rec) NPFMC and IPHC has been entirely focused on creating a financial investment market for the sole benefit of the longline fleet (and commercial fishing interests) and the detriment of the Alaskan communities, charter fishing businesses, and, most significantly, the halibut resource.

As the "regulators" have spent all of their energy eliminating nearly 50% of the charter fleet and soon 50% of the recreational angling opportunities, they have spent Zero effort to manage commercial fishing practices, resulting in a fisheries induced evolution toward exponentially fewer and smaller halibut.

As the "regulators" have spent all of this time manipulating "the process" under the guise of conservation, those same "regulators" and their cronies have been day trading halibut quota and making millions of dollars.

Interestingly, the same Linda Behnken mentioned in the article (when chair of the NPFMC) spearheaded the implementation of commercial quota shares in Alaska. She also submitted the first (and most of the subsequent) proposals/s to implement charter IFQs. She is/has been the president of ALFA (Alaska Fishermen’s Longline Association) as well as an advocate/employee/"unofficial lobbyist" for the MAJOR corporations in Seattle and Portland that own the majority of halibut quota shares in Alaska.

"We shouldn't be issuing control of our fisheries and access to our fisheries away from communities and to multinational corporations. It's a no-brainer," says Linda Behnken, the vice chair of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, which works to strengthen fishing communities.

The real irony is that Linda Behnken has been the driving force behind "issuing control of our fisheries and access to our fisheries away from communities". She and her cronies have worked very hard to make sure that they have complete control over who can and cannot purchase quota share opportunities in Alaska.

The new Alaskan Catch Sharing Plan is designed around a program to reallocate recreational angling opportunities to force an artificial marketplace in which recreational anglers must pay longliners to harvest halibut. However, they only want to allow the new shift by their own rules.

For example, they have made sure to stress that those purchase/lease opportunities may only be done on a small scale to ensure that bequests or investments by wealthy recreational interests cannot get "an upper hand" to ensure the future of recreational angling for halibut in Alaska. It's OK for commercial fishermen to make millions day trading quota. It's OK for major corporations in Seattle/Portland to control and own the majority of halibut quota. Everything is OK, as long as recreational anglers and charter businesses struggle to survive and have to pay the commercial fleet to "get by".

It's OK for Linda's employers and cronies to make hundreds of millions while decimating the halibut resource.......as long as they are in control. There must have been a loophole somewhere that she didn't see coming.

Even though Magnuson/Stevens specifically prohibits outright ownership of a public resource, the Alaskan halibut IFQ program, the NPFMC/IPHC, and the new Catch "Sharing" Plan has done exactly that.

Catch Shares are a BAD deal. They are devastating to the communities, devastating to the resource and have pretty much completely destroyed everything except the commercial longliners and processors financial portfolios.

I shall forever be opposed to Catch Shares and will never personally support them.

I have personally seen the sector separation and quota share programs destroy many lives/communities/businesses and the resource. 

Monday
Apr212014

'Ecosystem Management' Is Tactic to Restrict Fishing

Passed in 1973, the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) was much needed. Before then, we have given little regard to the damage that we were doing to fish and wildlife through pollution, habitat destruction, and overharvest. The gray wolf, the shortnose sturgeon, the whooping crane, and the American crocodile are but a few of the species brought back from the brink.

But soon environmental activists discovered that they could use the act to impose preservationist agendas, under the guise of saving endangered species. They started suing the federal government to force action.

As a result, the ESA now has become a polarizing force, as examples abound of the federal government abusing its power to seize and/or deny use of privately owned lands and waters. Sadly, some property owners even practice “shoot, shovel, and shut up” as a means of protecting themselves.

And now the environmentalists, financed by Pew Charitable Trusts, want to use the same tactic to restrict fishing by imposing “ecosystem-based fisheries management.” It’s simply the ESA by another name, with the focus on our waters.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance reports this Pew strategy:

“Ecosystem-based fisheries management could ensure the long-term health of our fisheries and the communities that depend on them for recreation, employment, and nutrition," with environmental advocates describing the vague term as a system to "account for the protection of important habitats, consider the critical role of prey, or forage fish, in the food web, and reduce the waste of non-target species through bycatch."

And in response, Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, says this:

"Pew Charitable Trusts wants ecosystem protections put into the federal fisheries law. That way they've got a legal argument to sue and settle for increased fisheries restrictions.

"Under such a nebulous ecosystem definition, Pew and their partners would then have a legal challenge to close down any recreational fishery they choose by claiming the need to protect sea lice, spearing, oyster toads, undersea corals, even jellyfish."

In May, Pew will hold a forum for Connecticut anglers in what RFA calls the “Hijacking America” tour.

“The Pew script explains how ecosystem plans should be created and implemented across our coasts to further integrate ecosystem considerations into management, while appealing for support for incorporating ecosystem-based fishery management policies into federal law by way of changes to MSA (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Event organizers are hyping ecosystem-based management as yet another ‘new approach’ to fisheries management in their war on recreational fishing,” RFA says.

Go here to learn more about this and how Pew, according to RFA, is trying to recruit recreational anglers “willing only to speak positively about federal fisheries management policies that have denied anglers access to healthy, rebuilt stocks like summer flounder, black sea bass, and porgy.”

Thursday
Mar272014

Policy Proposed to Promote, Preserve Saltwater Fishing

As Congress considers changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation Act, a commission of outdoors leaders offers a blueprint for ensuring the future of saltwater recreational fishing.

"Congress should establish a national policy to promote saltwater recreational fishing,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association. “In addition, Congress must open the ‘rusted-shut’ door of marine fisheries allocation to achieve the greatest benefit to the nation.”

“The Magnuson-Stevens Act established a management system for commercial fisheries, which has made great strides in ending commercial overexploitation of our marine fisheries,” added Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “However, for more than three decades it has focused primarily on commercial fishing. It’s time for Congress to do something for saltwater recreational fishing.”

Recommendations in A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries include the following:
• Establishing a national policy for recreational fishing
• Adopting a revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management
• Allocating marine fisheries for the greatest benefit to the nation
• Creating reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines
• Codifying a process for cooperative management
• Managing for the forage base

“Our commission offers a clear path to better stewardship of America’s marine fishery resources,” said Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops at a presentation earlier this week. “Today we ask Congress to join us on that path. We extend the invitation on behalf of all current anglers and future generations of anglers who will enjoy our nation’s resources for many years to come.”

“This is the first time that the recreational fishing and boating community has set forth a comprehensive vision,” said Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boats and co-chair with Morris of the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries. “I’m honored to be a part of this effort and proud to help lead our collective industries in ensuring that Congress hears our voices.”

The economic impact of saltwater angling in the U.S. is considerable. In 2011, approximately 11 million Americans saltwater fished recreationally, spending $27 billion in pursuit of their sport. That activity generated more than $70 billion in economic output and sustained 450,000 jobs. Anglers contribute more than $1.5 billion annually to fisheries habitat and conservation via excise taxes, donations and license fees alone.

Contributors to the Commission’s recommendations included the following:

American Sportfishing Association
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Berkley Conservation Institute
Center for Coastal Conservation
Coastal Conservation Association
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
National Marine Manufacturers Association
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Bass Pro Shops
Maverick Boats