WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Twenty-four members of Saving Seafood’s National Coalition for Fishing Communities (NCFC) are calling on Congress to enact broad reforms to the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), including allowing for greater flexibility in how stocks are rebuilt and changes to how new management programs are implemented.

The proposals, delivered in a letter to Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan, would, according to the signers, lead to a reauthorization that “allows for both sustainable fisheries management, and the long-term preservation of our nation’s fishing communities.”

The primary proposal is the elimination of the strict requirement that all fish stocks be rebuilt within 10 years, a timeline that the letter notes “has long been considered arbitrary.” Instead, the letter calls for allowing stocks to be rebuilt according to a “biologically-based time frame,” an option that it notes has broad scientific support.

“The National Academy of Science in their 2013 report titled ‘Evaluating the Effectiveness of Fish Stock Rebuilding Plans in the U.S.’ concluded that ten years is indeed arbitrary given the vast differences in habitat, life history, and environmental conditions for fish stocks around the nation,” the letter states. “It is therefore time to replace this requirement with a more scientifically valid life-history based metric.”

Other proposed reforms to increase flexibility include regular reviews of rebuilding targets, allowing for consideration of alternative rebuilding strategies, and allowing the Regional Fishery Management Councils to consider changes in ecosystems when setting Annual Catch Limits.

The letter also calls for changes in how catch share programs are introduced to fisheries across the country, with the letter “supporting the requirement for a transparent referendum process before any new catch share program can be implemented.”

The signers of the letter note that the nation’s fishermen are invested in the long-term success and sustainability of its marine resources, and that these proposals will lead to a more effective fishery management system.

“There is no group that depends on the future of our living marine resources more than those who make their livelihoods from the ocean,” the letter concludes. “Our recommendations to the already effective MSA framework will allow us to better protect the people and communities that rely upon healthy and abundant fisheries.”

The letter was signed by a diverse group of associations and businesses from across the country, ranging from New England and the Mid-Atlantic to the Gulf Coast, California, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and Hawaii. A full list of signers is included below.

American Fishermen’s Research Foundation
California Wetfish Producers Association
Delmarva Fisheries Association
Dock to Dish Montauk
Directed Sustainable Fisheries
Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association
Gosmans Fish Market
Hawaii Longline Association
Inlet Seafood Restaurant and Pack House
Long Island Commercial Fishing Association
Montauk Fish Dock
New Bedford Port Authority
North Carolina Fisheries Association
Rhode Island Commercial Fisherman’s Alliance
Seafreeze Ltd.
Silver Dollar Fisheries
Gabby G Fisheries
Blue Water Fisheries
Offshore Fishery
Southeastern Fisheries Association
Sustainable Shark Alliance
Town Dock
West Coast Seafood Processors Association
Western Fishboat Owners Association

Read the letter here



A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/69c399a8-693e-4fc2-8da1-fcc20a64623b

Bob Vanasse
National Coalition for Fishing Communities
(202) 333-2628