HTML _ IB95036 - Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act Reauthorization
4-Dec-1996; Eugene Buck; 15 p.

Abstract: Historically, coastal states managed marine sport and commercial fisheries in nearshore waters, where most marine seafood was caught. However, as fishing techniques improved and offshore resources were discovered, more fishers ventured farther offshore. The role of the federal government in marine fisheries began to grow as foreign nations increased fishery catches off U.S. coasts in the 1950s. Enactment of the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MFCMA) in 1976 extended federal fishery jurisdiction to 200 miles offshore and established the current federal fishery management regime. Today, individual states manage marine fisheries in inshore and coastal waters with interstate coordination accomplished through three regional (Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific) marine fishery commissions, created through interstate compacts approved by Congress. Beyond state jurisdiction (generally 3 miles) out to 200 miles, the federal government manages fish and shellfish resources for which management plans have been developed under the MFCMA. Under provisions of the MFCMA, eight Regional Fishery Management Councils were established for the New England, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific, Western Pacific, and North Pacific regions. The eight Councils prepare fishery management plans (FMPs) for fisheries requiring active federal management. The MFCMA was most recently reauthorized and extensively amended in 1990 (P.L. 101-627); the current authorization for appropriations expired at the end of FY1993. The issue for the 104th Congress was whether, and if so, under what conditions, to continue the existing regime for fishery conservation and management in offshore federal waters. Congress reviewed the direction and criteria provided by the MFCMA for allocating seafood catch among domestic interests in an era of mounting demands for these resources. Two primary reauthorization and amendment bills were introduced -- H.R. 39 and S. 39. S. 39 was passed by both the Senate and House in the last days of the 104th Congress, and was signed by President Clinton as P.L. 104-297 on Oct. 11, 1996. Both House and Senate bills focused on the major challenges facing marine fishery managers, which can be roughly grouped into four areas -- habitat degradation, overfishing, bycatch (discards and other waste), and funding. Provisions on individual transferable quotas (ITQs) are also controversial. (See CRS Report 95-849 for background.) Major issues addressed during reauthorization included: 1) how to better conserve fish stocks and restore overfished populations, 2) how to assure that membership on regional councils is fair and balanced, 3) whether to specify in more detail the approaches that should be taken to address overcapitalization through access limitation, 4) whether to remove the restriction on fee collection to permit user fees and other charges that could be directed to fund conservation and management activities, 5) whether to provide for more emphasis on social benefits that might better preserve traditional small fishers; and 6) how to strengthen provisions for habitat restoration and protection. [read report]

Topics: Marine

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