House Passes Bill to Unravel Successful U.S. Ocean Fishing Law

H.R. 200 would weaken efforts to rebuild fish populations and end overfishing

Navigate to:

House Passes Bill to Unravel Successful U.S. Ocean Fishing Law
magnuson-stevens act
Fishermen pull in Atlantic herring. A bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, if enacted, could have major implications for ocean fish and American fishermen.
National Geographic/Getty Images

On July 11, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, on a close vote of 222-193, that jeopardizes significant gains made in U.S. fishery management in recent decades. If signed into law, H.R. 200 will increase the risk of overfishing in ocean waters, delay the rebuilding of depleted fish populations, and undercut the important role science plays in management decisions. Representatives added several amendments while debating the bill, but none fixed H.R. 200’s weakening of core fish conservation requirements.

The bill reauthorizes, or updates, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), which first passed in 1976 and is our country’s primary ocean fishing law. This week’s vote shows that opposition to the House’s approach to reauthorizing the law has increased on both sides of the aisle since the last attempted update three years ago. Further, a wide range of stakeholders around the U.S., including fishermen, scientists, chefs, and more than 1,000 others have spoken out against H.R. 200 since the bill was introduced in January 2017. I sincerely thank those U.S. representatives who voted against H.R. 200 this week.

The last two Magnuson-Stevens reauthorizations, in 1996 and 2006, strengthened the law’s conservation provisions and foundations in science with overwhelming bipartisan support. As I’ve written before, Congress can and should do better than H.R. 200 when it comes to updating such a vital law.

The next reauthorization of the MSA should build on our country’s progress in ending overfishing and rebuilding fish populations. It should address today’s fishery management challenges, including conserving forage fish, minimizing bycatch, and improving protections of fish habitat. In short, any bill Congress passes should reflect America’s commitment to healthy fish populations and coastal communities, from fishermen to business owners to future generations of Americans.

Ted Morton leads The Pew Charitable Trusts’ fisheries work at the federal level.

National Homeownership Month

Article

37 Researchers Working to Transform Biomedical Science

Quick View
Article

Biomedical researchers are on the front lines of scientific innovation. From responding to global pandemics to pioneering lifesaving cancer treatments, these researchers push past scientific boundaries to solve pressing health challenges. For nearly 40 years, The Pew Charitable Trusts has supported more than 1,000 early-career biomedical scientists committed to this discovery.

Magnuson-Stevens Act
Magnuson-Stevens Act
Article

Congress, Don’t Be Fooled: H.R. 200 Would Roll Back Magnuson-Stevens Act

Quick View
Article

Congress, Don’t Be Fooled: H.R. 200 Would Roll Back Magnuson-Stevens Act

A bill that would weaken the nation’s primary fishery management law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, is likely to be debated on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives this month.

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.