The Marine Retailers Association of America is urging support for H.R. 5425, the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act.
“This bill will promote fish population rebuilding programs vital to the growth of the fishing and boating industries,” said MRAA president Phil Keeter in a statement. “We applaud the strong work of the Recreational Fishing Alliance in its support of recreational fishing.”
Under the new Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management Act — passed by Congress in 2006 — when a fishery is identified as overfished, a Regional Fishery Management Council has two years to implement a plan to end overfishing and, with limited exceptions, to rebuild the stock within 10 years.
The 10-year rebuilding requirement has three exceptions: based on the biology of the fish, environmental conditions or an agreement between the U.S. and other nations. Other than those three situations, all overfished fisheries must achieve rebuilt status within 10 years, according to the Recreational Fishing Alliance.
MRAA says H.R. 5425 would allow fisheries managers to extend the 10-year rebuilding period for a species if certain common-sense conditions apply, such as economic conditions, whether the target exceeds the highest abundance of fish stock in the past 25 years or changes in environmental and ecological factors arising.
“Fisheries laws should be designed to promote healthy fisheries and healthy fishing communities,” the association said in a recent Dealer Alert. “MRAA strongly supports keeping fishing communities economically viable without compromising the ultimate rebuilding goal. H.R. 5425 is a good bill that accomplishes that goal. MRAA encourages the Congress to pass H.R. 5425 to help keep fishing a strong industry and form of recreation in our country.”
The National Marine Manufacturers Association has not yet taken a position on this particular bill, says Mat Dunn, NMMA manager of natural resources and economic policy.
“We continue to review this legislation, but we have not taken a position yet — primarily because we’re so focused on the permitting issue,” said Dunn, referring to the Clean Boating Act that is working its way through the legislative process.
However, he said, “We do support flexibility in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, particularly with fisheries that are on a positive rebuilding trend.”