The National Marine Fisheries Service (an agency of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is offering the following recommendations to strengthen existing fisheries management programs as the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act comes before Congress for reauthorization this year:
- Streamline the public comment and secretarial review and approval process to make the management system more efficient.
- Come up with standards and requirements for the development of individual fishing quotas (IFQs).
- Improve the effectiveness of fishing capacity reduction programs. Buyback programs can help reduce harvesting capacity to sustainable levels, both biological and economic.
- Institute tougher fines and penalties for fishery violations.
- Give Regional Management Councils and the Secretary of Commerce discretion to develop mechanisms to fund fund fishery-observer programs, including the collection of fees from the industry.
- Remove restrictions on access to fishery economic data.
- Create a statutory distinction between the terms “overfishing” and “overfished.” This would change the act’s current, single definition for both terms to reflect the application of “overfishing” to the rate of harvest and “overfished” to the size of a stock of fish.
For more information, visit www.nmfs.noaa.gov.