Legislation Introduced to Stop Unwarranted Fisheries Closures
The Fisheries Science Improvement Act will help ensure science is the primary driver of federal fisheries management decisionsThe Fisheries Science Improvement Act (H.R. 2304), introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) on June 23, 2011, with the support of a bi-partisan group of 18 other Members of Congress, seeks to ensure that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is required to set catch limits based on data, not on guesstimates.
This legislation will guide federal fisheries management towards a more science-based approach and prevent NOAA Fisheries from setting arbitrary and overly-restrictive catch levels on numerous important recreational fisheries.
H.R. 2304 provides a timely path for NOAA Fisheries to manage all of America's marine fish stocks based on sound scientific data. View the Fishery Science Improvement Act Fact Sheet.
The SituationAs amended in 2006, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires Regional Fishery Management Councils to put in place annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs) for every fishery by December 31, 2011. The requirements were intended to end overfishing by 2011 but were predicated on two critical assumptions:
- NOAA Fisheries would make decisions based on up-to-date and accurate stock assessments
- NOAA Fisheries would improve catch data to better anticipate potential problems in a given fishery.
Scientific management should be the cornerstone of fisheries management at NOAA. However, the agency has felt compelled by statutory deadlines to make major fishery management decisions using inadequate data and incomplete analysis. NOAA Fisheries is simply making guesses in many cases when setting catch limits and in determining other management parameters, and guesswork should have no place in federal fisheries management.