House Version of Magnuson-Stevens Act Introduced

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Tim Zink March 29, 2006 202-654-4625 For Immediate Release [email protected] House Version of Magnuson-Stevens Act Introduced Bill Seen as a Good Step Towards Addressing Saltwater Anglers’ Priorities WASHINGTON - Passage of a strong marine fisheries conservation bill took an important step forward today as House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) and Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Don Young (R-Alaska) introduced legislation to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The legislation builds a strong foundation for future discussions at a critical point with only approximately 50 legislative days left in this Congress. “Our initial examination of this complicated and highly technical legislation tells us that many of our core priorities are being addressed. As we continue to analyze the bill with an eye toward the SALT principles (outlined below), we look forward to opportunities for lawmakers to strengthen the fisheries conservation elements that will be contained in the final version of the Magnuson-Stevens bill,” said Jim Martin, the Director of the Berkley Conservation Institute. Key to the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) Marine Conservation Working Group (MCWG) is inclusion of much of the language the working group has promoted to enhance recreational fishing. The Working Group has organized around four key SALT principles: Science must be used in marine fisheries conservation; Allocate fisheries resources more equitably to recreational fishermen; License saltwater anglers to improve data collection and increase funding; Tackle used by fishermen should reduce bycatch and not damage habitat. “It is our hope that changes to the environmental review process proposed by the House bill are carefully evaluated as Congress moves ahead so we can guarantee that adequate protections exist for essential fish habitat,” said Carol Forthman, Director of Ocean Resource Policy of the American Sportfishing Association. “Saltwater anglers depend on a strong Magnuson-Stevens Act to ensure that there are healthy fish populations for them to pursue. We applaud the House leadership for working closely with those of us in the recreational fishing sector as they drafted their bill,” commented Bob Hayes with the Coastal Conservation Association and co-chair of TRCP’s MCWG. He continued, “With bills in the Senate and now in the House that include most of our SALT principles for recreational anglers, we are close to the first comprehensive revision of the law in 10 years, and the first that considers recreational fishing interests on par with commercial fishing. House and Senate leaders need to move forward quickly so that we do not lose this golden opportunity.” Of particular interest to TRCP and its marine conservation partners is language that sets clear scientific criteria that must be met before no-fishing marine reserves can be created, ensures that fisheries resources are allocated based on the economic impact of all fishing sectors, and develops a national registry of recreational anglers. New to the bill, the House Resources Committee requires a report on the 20 most overcapitalized fisheries and encourages fleet buyouts that would purchase not only the fishing vessels but also the permit. In addition, the bill improves on the Senate version by authorizing $5 million to help states without a saltwater fishing license to establish a program that will improve data collection on recreational fishing – a move to encourage states to take the lead on licensing. “For years state fish and wildlife agencies have shown that effective hunting and fishing license programs are critical for funding conservation and providing solid data on these recreational interests,” stated the International Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies’ Eric Schwaab who is also a co-chair of the MCWG. “The House bill allows more states to embrace a saltwater fishing license and helps them to get programs off the ground by allocating funds for this purpose.” Matthew B. Connolly, President of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, noted, “This is only the third time in thirty years that Congress has made substantial changes to the premier marine fisheries law. If the final bill includes the SALT principles advocated by our Marine Conservation Working Group, it will be a positive step forward for recreational fishing. Reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act with these improvements should be one of the top priorities for Congress to complete this session.” TRCP’s Marine Conservation Working Group brings together marine policy experts from the nation’s leading recreational fishing and marine conservation organizations including the American Sportfishing Association, Berkley Conservation Institute, Coastal Conservation Association, the International Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, and the Izaak Walton League of America. For additional information about the Magnuson-Stevens Act and more details on our SALT Principles, go to: *** The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is a coalition of leading conservation organizations and individual grassroots partners, working together to conserve fish and wildlife and their habitat, increase funding for conservation and management, and expand access to places to hunt and fish. Tim Zink Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Deputy Director of Communications 555 11th Street NW, 6th Floor Washington, DC 20004 202-654-4625 [email protected]