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Pallone Questions Chairman of Mid-Atlantic Management Fishery Council on Flexibility in Fisheries Management

February 5, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC —Yesterday, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) spoke at the Committee on Natural Resources hearing about the need to make changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in its reauthorization.  The Magnuson-Stevens Act is the main law governing fisheries management in the United States.  The legislation, originally enacted in 1976, was most recently reauthorized in 2006.

At the hearing, Pallone stressed the need for common sense improvements to the law that would allow for added flexibility when rebuilding fisheries so that it could be done in a sustainable way that protects fishermen.  He also advocated for making fisheries management more contingent on having proper science and said that requiring better data collection for managing recreational fishing must be a priority.

Pallone questioned Mr. Richard B. Robins, Jr., chair of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, on both these issues, asking him if more flexible rebuilding requirements would allow organizations like the Mid-Atlantic Council to sustainably manage fisheries.  Mr. Robins agreed that increased flexibility would allow fisheries managers to better mitigate the social and economic impacts of management.  He also said that allowing fisheries to be rebuilt “whenever practical” instead of “whenever possible” would not only help make fisheries more sustainable for generations, but also allow timelines to be amended when unforeseen environmental or biological challenges arise.

Congressman Pallone also raised the point that current rebuilding plans are not flexible enough to account for uncertainties in scientific data.  Mr. Robins agreed, explaining that, while important, accountability measures should not be “set up in a way that implies a level of accuracy that does not exist.”  Rather, fisheries should have more flexibility in adjusting quotas when there is not sufficient data available regarding stocks.  

You can watch Congressman Pallone’s complete line of questioning here: