HOUSE PASSES FISHERIES REFORM BILL WITH JONES’ PROVISIONS

Jul 12, 2018 Issues: Fishing

WASHINGTON, DC –  Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act.  The legislation, introduced by Congressman Don Young (AK), would reauthorize and reform the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which is the law governing fisheries management in federal waters of the United States.  H.R. 200 passed the House by a vote of 222-193, and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

“Fishermen have unnecessarily sacrificed for years because of flaws in the existing law,” said Congressman Jones.   “If we can get more flexibility in rebuilding fisheries, and more transparency and accountability in management, everybody wins.  Fishing stocks get recovered, and the jobs and economic activity associated with fishing can be restored.”

Congressman Jones is the author of two of H.R. 200’s core provisions to improve flexibility and transparency in fisheries management.  On flexibility, the bill included language Congressman Jones originally introduced in 2007 as H.R. 4087, the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act.  That language would amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act to allow the 10-year time period for rebuilding fisheries to be extended under certain common-sense circumstances.  In allowing such flexibility, the bill would provide for timely restoration of healthy fisheries while also ensuring that fishermen are not put out of business because of the rigid timelines currently in the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

On transparency, the bill included language from legislation Congressman Jones originally introduced in 2011 as H.R. 2753, the Fishery Management Transparency and Accountability Act.  That language would bring sunlight to the proceedings of federal fisheries managers by requiring federal Regional Fishery Management Councils to broadcast their meetings live over the Internet.  It would also require video/audio recordings or searchable transcripts of council meetings to be made freely available to the public. Congressman Jones was alerted to the need for this language after hearing from fishermen who wanted to follow the councils’ proceedings but could not do so due to the time and expense involved with attending in person.

H.R. 200 also includes language to rein in catch share programs on the Atlantic Coast.  Congressman Jones has championed this issue for many years through successful efforts to strip federal funding for new catch share programs, which destroy fishing jobs and communities.  The bill would require a majority of permit holders in a fishery to vote for a new program before it could be imposed by the National Marine Fisheries Service.  Fishermen in the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic regions do not currently have that right.

Congressman Jones has long been a strong supporter and advocate for Eastern North Carolina fishermen.

For additional information, please contact Allison Tucker in Congressman Walter Jones’ office at Allison.tucker@mail.house.gov or (202) 225-3415.

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