Congress Passes Landmark Fisheries Law

Significant changes approved for U.S. fisheries management system Alexandria, VA – December 11, 2006 – In a last minute effort, Congress approved the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Sustainable Fisheries Act on December 9, 2007. The Act, under development since early 2005, took until now to bring together all the different interests to reach a final bill. The Act makes a number of significant changes to the fisheries management system in the United States, including important advances for sportfishing. The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) brought many of these important sportfishing issues to the fore during Congress’ consideration of the bill. The bill places limits on the creation of no-fishing zones, requiring that they be based on sound science and that a review process be set to determine when and if they are no longer needed. The bill also requires the federal Fishery Management Councils to recognize the economic contributions of sportfishing when setting allocations. Important conservation measures include: a time frame to end overfishing; new requirements for reducing bycatch; and provisions for buyouts of overcapitalized commercial fleets. The bill also contains extensive provisions on individual fishing quotas for commercial fleets and strengthened enforcement to fight illegal international fishing. ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman stated, "Both houses of Congress, with strong leadership from Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Congressmen Richard Pombo (R-CA) and Jim Saxton (R-NJ), have crafted a well-balanced bill. We appreciate the Senator's and Congressmen’s willingness to listen to and address the issues vital to the sportfishing community. This new law provides a sound basis for improving fisheries conservation and management for the enjoyment of future generations of anglers." Saltwater anglers contribute over $31 billion annually to the United States economy. Many communities in coastal states depend upon sportfishing to support their local economies. Commenting on the importance of conservation and sound management to quality fishing, ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson said, "Recreational anglers and the businesses that serve them depend on abundant, sustainable and accessible fisheries. We are happy to have a strong new Magnuson-Stevens Act that furthers the protection of our resources." The American Sportfishing Association is the sportfishing industry’s trade association, uniting more than 650 members of the sportfishing and boating industries with state fish and wildlife agencies, federal land and water management agencies, conservation organizations, angler advocacy group and outdoor journalists. The American Sportfishing Association safeguards and promotes the enduring social, economic, and conservation values of sportfishing.