WASHINGTON DC / ACCESSWIRE / January 8, 2020 / Members of Saving Seafood's National Coalition for Fishing Communities (NCFC) would like to thank Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) and the members of the House Natural Resources Committee for their work in 2019 hosting their series of listening sessions on the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA). NCFC members from across the country have participated in the sessions, bringing the concerns of the fishing industry directly into the MSA reauthorization process. NCFC looks forward to continue working with the Committee on MSA in 2020.
The listening sessions, which began in October with two days of hearings in Northern California and continued with additional hearings in Seattle and Baltimore, are gathering input on the state of U.S. fisheries from fishermen and other stakeholders. At each stop, fishermen have shared with the committee how current fisheries management is working-and how it can be reformed.
- In Arcata, California, Wayne Heikkila, Executive Director of the Western Fishboat Owners Association (WFOA) discussed funding and science issues, as well as the need to distinguish between fish stocks that are actually experiencing overfishing and those that are depleted due to other causes. WFOA is a non-profit association representing albacore troll-vessel owners and supporting businesses in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii.
- In San Francisco, Mike Conroy, founder of West Coast Fisheries Consultants, discussed the need for better science to help fill data gaps, and how increased collaboration with the industry could help address this shortcoming.
- In Seattle, Lori Steele, Executive Director of the West Coast Seafood Processors Association (WCSPA) told the committee about the need for additional flexibility in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, while still honoring the Act's conservation goals. The hearing also discussed how to meet the long-term needs of fishing communities, especially in the face of climate change. Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, WCSPA members are shore-based processors of fish and shellfish in Washington, Oregon and California.
- In Baltimore, Greg DiDomenico, Executive Director of the Garden State Seafood Association (GSSA) informed the committee on key successes protecting forage species and adopting protections for critical coral habitats in the Mid-Atlantic. He raised concerns over the impacts of overly precautionary approach to the MSA has led to underfishing of fish stocks. Specifically, he noted that risk-adverse management has led to unpredictable quotas, stemming from fluctuating estimates of scientific uncertainty. GSSA represents fishing industry members who sustainably harvest seafood from New Jersey's inshore & offshore waters.
"We have been testifying since 2009 on the unintended consequences of the 2006 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act," said Greg DiDomenico. "As part of these hearings we've provided the Chairman with 10 years worth of written testimony so that we can finally fix these issues in the next update to MSA."
SOURCE: National Coalition for Fishing Communities