40 Years Of Fish Management
The federal Fishery Conservation and Management Act became law on April 13, 1976.
So, what has it done the four decades since?
A Healthy Bottom Line
“A recent United Nations study found
that the U.S. leads the world in managing its fishery resources for sustainabil-ity,” says BoatU.S. President Margaret
Podlich. “So despite 40 years of lumpy
seas and numerous course corrections
– intended and otherwise – that show
the Magnuson-Stevens Act is working,
that is, it’s working for the fish, and
now it’s time to fine tune the law to provide more and better opportunities for
For a more complete
Magnuson-Stevens Act timeline,
go to www.BoatUS.com/Magazine
A BoatU.S. special report By Ryck Lydecker
The 1976 Magnuson- Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) put the U.S. —
through the National Marine Fisheries
Service (NMFS) — in control of the fish
in our coastal waters and sent packing the foreign fleets that for years
had been scooping them up with
impunity. It’s taken decades to get
the “management” part almost right,
and our “conservation” approach is
the best in the world. But there’s
work yet to be done on both fronts.
Find your own fish!
■ The MSA puts the U.S in control of fish
out to 200 miles to protect the domestic
seafood fleet and manage fisheries for
“Maximum Sustainable Yield.”
■ The MSA carves up the 3.4-million-
square-mile Fishery Conservation Zone
and creates eight regional management
councils to “prevent overfishing,” with few
tools to meet that goal but broad authority to modify limits.
“Stop wasting fish.”
■ Major changes to the MSA are meant
to stop overfishing by setting measurable
goals, but some fisheries have reached
■ Congress calls for annual reports for all
federally managed fish stocks and adds
deadlines to rebuild depleted populations.
■ Adds mandates to reduce bycatch in
commercial fishing operations.
End overfishing, now!
■ With 25 percent of stocks still overfished
and 20 percent more headed that way,
Congress requires strict science-based
■ The MSA sets deadlines to end overfishing.
■ NMFS must establish a “national saltwa-ter-angler registry” to accurately assess
recreational fishing efforts and catch.
It’s our turn.
20 ... When?
■ The MSA is again up for reauthorization, and it’s time to give saltwater
angling its due. “A Vision for Managing
America’s Saltwater Recreational
Fisheries” delivers recommendations.
■ NOAA Fisheries’ new National
Saltwater Recreational Fishing Policy
promises to promote bluewater and
inshore angling, plus gamefish habitat
and more equitable allocations to