Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Defend the Magnuson Stevens Act - and our wild fish stocks

Mid-Atlantic Marine Fish Populations

For the first time in a generation, fish populations are getting healthier – science-based management and rebuilding requirements have led to the recovery of 23 fish species since 2000, according to NOAA Fisheries. This list includes popular fish like New England sea scallop, which comprises the second most valuable commercial fishery in the country, and summer flounder, a favorite for recreational anglers and local seafood markets in the Mid-Atlantic.
And it’s all thanks to the bipartisan, 36-year-old Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the law that’s helped to bring America’s marine fish populations back from the brink of collapse.
That law, however, is under attack right now by fishing lobbying groups that have organized a rally in Washington, D.C. today.  Preserving the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) is the most effective way to keep fishermen fishing by ensuring that enough fish remain in the sea to spawn the next generation. 
In fact, recreational fishing trips have actually increased since the major conservation provisions were added to the law.  In the Mid-Atlantic, for example, the number of recreational angler trips increased by nearly one-third (from 15 million to nearly 20 million trips) from the 1990s, when popular fish species were depleted, to the 2000s, as fish species were recovering to healthy levels.  Most interestingly, while the number of fish permitted to be brought ashore was restricted to allow populations to recover, the overall number of fish caught (including those thrown back) kept increasing along with the growing number of fishermen. 

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