Monday, July 16, 2018

House passes legislation to increase local control of fishing

The U.S. House recently passed, mostly along party lines, legislation to change a 1976 fishing law to give local groups more control in developing recovery plans when fishing stocks get too low. As it stands now, regional councils decide fishing seasons and set catch limits to prevent overfishing.

"Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who sponsored both this recent bill and the original 1976 law, said the update ensures 'a proper balance between the biological needs of fish stocks and the economic needs of fishermen'," Dino Grandoni reports for The Washington Post.

Environmentalists are leery of the change, worrying that it could trigger overfishing. But critics of the current system say it doesn't account for the amount of time it takes to replenish different kinds of fish--some more quickly than others.

Partisan sentiment is new in such matters. "The Magnuson-Stevens Act was amended and reauthorized in 1996 and then again 10 years later, each time largely with bipartisan support," Grandoni reports. "What’s atypical is how partisan this has become," said Meredith Moore, director of the fish conservation program at the Ocean Conservancy.

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