SSA Comments on Magnuson-Stevens Act Reauthorization

SSA filed detailed comments on a Senate staff draft bill to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA).   The 90-page staff draft includes many proposed amendments to the Act that if enacted would make significant changes to the management of US fisheries including US shrimp fisheries.


The MSA is the primary federal statute that sets forth US fishery policy and a process for managing US fisheries through the development and implementation of scientifically-based fishery management plans. Most of these plans are developed by eight regional Councils established under the Act that include the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils. Membership on these Councils includes representatives of the commercial fisheries including the shrimp fisheries in the Gulf and South Atlantic.   The National Marine Fisheries Service is also represented on the Councils and is responsible for implementing and enforcing fishery management plans and regulations.


In submitting these comments SSA joined the Northeast Seafood Coalition, representing the New England groundfish fishery, and the Blue Water Fishermen’s Association, representing the Atlantic pelagic longline fishery for swordfish and tunas. Collectively, these US fisheries account for over $550 million in annual landings (ex-vessel), and the membership of these organizations include approximately 2000 small businesses in every coastal State bordering the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.


The extensive comments address a very broad range of US fishery policy, scientific and management issues including a number of proposed amendments that would have important implications for the shrimp fisheries. These range from how the term “bycatch” is defined and utilized in various provisions of the Act; the disparate assessment of fees on direct and bycatch fisheries; the incorporation of fishery ecosystem considerations into fishery management; the creation of a federally-authorized label for “sustainably caught” seafood– to preserving the current exemption for shrimp stocks from the requirements of the Act to set Annual Catch Limits for all fish stocks managed under the Act. This exemption was secured by SSA during the last MSA reauthorization process in 2006 recognizing that the annual productivity of species with very short (annual) life spans is determined by prevailing environmental conditions and not by fishery mortality.


SSA has a long record of active and successful participation in the Congressional process of writing legislation affecting fisheries management, food safety, international trade and other issues affecting the US shrimp fisheries including the Magnuson-Stevens Act.


For a copy of the Senate staff draft click here:


For a copy of SSA’s joint comments click here:

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