WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), a senior member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, criticized the Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization bill offered by Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) as being too partisan. The bill would amend and reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), which is the law governing management of fisheries in the United States.
“It had been my hope that this reauthorization would have taken a more bipartisan approach to reform fisheries policies,” said Pallone. “While the bill includes important fisheries management reforms I strongly support, such as important flexibility language and modifications to the annual catch limit requirements, I am troubled by language in the bill that would make unnecessary changes to important environmental protection policies. In its current form, it is unlikely that the bill would pass in the Senate or be signed into law.”
The bill would vest National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA) authority in the fishery management councils instead of with the appropriate federal agencies, according to Pallone. Pallone voiced his concern that the regional councils lack the expertise to appropriately review and analyze the impacts and requirements of NEPA or the ESA.
Congressman Pallone offered his own amendment to the bill, which was passed by the committee, to ensure the fishery management councils are collecting the best information possible about recreational fishing based on scientific data.
“New Jersey’s fishing industry is an important economic driver for our state, generating billions of dollars in annual revenues and supporting tens of thousands of jobs,” said Pallone. “My amendment will help us better understand the actual health and viability of fisheries based on the collection of sound scientific data to help ensure that the fishing industry can thrive.”
As a senior member of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs, Congressman Pallone has repeatedly called for reforms in federal law to help New Jersey’s recreational and commercial fishermen who can face restrictions in their catch limits based on insufficient data and poor science. Pallone added that he would continue to work with Republican leadership to change the NEPA and ESA provisions as the bill moves to the House floor.