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They said it couldn’t be done… Congratulations and thank you to the thousands of you who helped make deep-sea coral research and protection the law of the land (and the sea).
Late Friday night, in Congress’ last hours before the holidays and a new majority, the House passed a bill reauthorizing and updating the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the key legislation governing our nation’s fisheries.
One major benefit is the bill’s recognition of the importance of deep-sea coral and sponge habitat to healthy fisheries and oceans. The renewed MSA calls for increased research for deep-sea coral reefs and gives regional fishery management councils the authority to protect them from destructive fishing practices. That’s cause for real celebration!
We — and Congress -- couldn’t have done it without you, so give yourself a round of applause, a pat on the back, personal kudos… For a bit more about the bill see the “CEO’s Note” that Oceana’s president sent out yesterday and that we have attached below.
For the oceans,
Oceana’s Stop Destructive Trawling Campaign
The world's oceans received good news and bad news early Saturday morning in Washington with the passage of a new Magnuson-Stevens Act - the act that governs America's fisheries.
First, the good news: the legislation significantly improves the protection of deep-sea corals and sponges from bottom trawling and other destructive fishing gear. Fisheries management councils now have the authority to close areas to protect deep sea corals without first proving that the areas are Essential Fish Habitat, a very difficult process. Also, scientist will now have a greater role in setting allowable catch limits in all US fisheries. Other improvements include the provisions to address overfishing and a new emphasis on international issues.
Now, the bad news: the bill weakens the role of the public in managing its marine resources by raising barriers to the public's access to data. It also strengthens policies to privatize our fisheries without mandating conservation standards to maintain healthy oceans.
Fundamentally, this bill as passed makes only incremental changes to the existing Magnuson-Stevens Act despite calls from two commissions and the scientific community that drastic changes are needed to truly protect and manage ocean ecosystems. Clearly, our work is not done, and Oceana will continue to push Congress to ensure that stronger legislation is introduced to protect US oceans and ocean resources.
Chief Executive Officer
A very small carrot for a large pile of poo. FUBAR, actually.
Don't get me wrong, I'd like to eliminate bottom trawling and long line fishing, but this seems like very bad news.
Just how will scientists have a greater role in setting allowable catch limits? Those limits are and will continue to be set by counsels that are appointed by politicians. Which means they will be beholden to the politicians who are, in turn, beholden to theire contributors. Just who do you think those contributors will be? Longliners and bottom trawlers.
Looks like Bob Spaeth will be doing "research" for the NFMS for quite a while, nevermind the conflict of interest.
At the same time, the public has had barriers added to seeing the "data" collected.
The reauthorizised Magnuson Act clearly elevates the role of the council’s scientific advisors. Will it eliminate all politics from the process, not likely but keep in mind that the fishing levels the scientists recommend can NOT be exceeded by the councils. Overfishing will end for all species by 2011 except summer flounder and for that species the deadline is 2013. Beginning now and continuing into the future councils have just 2 years to implement rebuilding plans that will bring an immediate end to the overfishing of depleted species.
It was a disappointment that the conflict of interest provisions that the conservation community supported were not included in the bill and that the limitations on access to data that Oceana was actively opposing were included. The NEPA language we opposed in the bill was unnecessary as well but was left in the final bill.
And Mr. Spaeth may be doing some research and advice for NOAA but he is not likely to be very pleased with the ten year limit on IFQs and the potential for distribution by royalty auction rather than given away based on fish history. This was a bill that passed out of one of the most anti-environmental congresses in memory and there were no significant rollbacks in the conservation provisions of the MSA. To hold the line would have been success but, for those concerned with limiting bottom trawl destruction of deep-sea corals or with stopping overfishing and rebuilding overfished populations, this was a very good outcome.
There is, as our CEO said in a note yesterday, a great deal of work yet to be done to protect the health and life of the oceans. But for all environmentalists, conservationists, sustainability advocates and family fishermen and divers, we should celebrate our success from time to time rather than always looking at the half-empty glass.
To get a better view of the commercial rape if the fisheries resources and insider deals going on at the fisheries councils get involved with the FRA. These guys are busy shining a very bright light on the fisheries councils as they attempt "business as usual."
It looks like in order to consider this even a small win, you have to trust the counsels that are responsible for managing our resources. Given their track record (and the NFMS really stands out here), trust is not something they've earned.
If they are trustworthy, then why have they made it more difficult for the public to see the data that they collect?
I love that the NFMS tried to illegally close a fishery because the fish LOOKED like a fish that was closed. Also that they hired a longliner (one who had been caught with a boat fishing in a sanctuary, even) to gather catch information for commercial fisherman. No conflict of interest there. This is the type of people that we're going to have to trust.
Like Reagan said to Gorby: "Trust, but verify". Unfortunately, someone is making the verify difficult in this equasion.