FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 18th, 2016


MAGNUSON STEVENS TURNS 40, FCC MEMBERS ADVOCATE FOR MAINTAINING STRONG MSA WITH SCIENCE, CONSERVATION, AND ACCOUNTABILITY AT ITS CORE
 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC) issued the following statement on their recent visit to Washington, D.C.:
 
More than 15 fishermen and representatives from Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Texas, and Florida arrived in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, April 12th, the eve of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) turning 40 years old, to represent the FCC in meetings with legislative and executive offices. FCC members met with more than 20 Congressional offices and committees in the House and Senate, as well as with representatives from NMFS, on Tuesday and Wednesday to highlight the successes of the MSA and to advocate for sensible, smart reforms in future reauthorizations that will continue moving our Nation’s fisheries in the right direction and keep commercial fishermen in business. Discussions included improving monitoring and accountability, including more fully incorporating electronic technologies into management, strengthening community protections, reducing bycatch, supporting the next generation of fishermen, preventing disruptive reallocation reviews, and protecting the NEPA review process in fisheries management. 
 
“MSA turning 40 was a great opportunity for our fishermen and representatives to come to D.C. to illustrate how hugely important this law is to commercial fishermen around the country. Our fishermen recognize that the MSA reauthorization is a pivotal time in fisheries management and we look forward to remaining engaged in the process and supporting our commercial fishing industry.”
Claire Fitz-Gerald, Sector Manager for the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance
Chatham Massachusetts
 
“We came to DC with the message that ‘Magnuson is working.’  We impressed upon Congress that any reauthorization should protect the critical conservation and accountability measures in this law, and that we support small improvements that support this vision.  Red snapper are making an epic comeback in the Gulf of Mexico thanks to Magnuson, and we can’t afford to undermine this success story.”
Eric Brazer, Deputy Director for the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance
Galveston, Texas
 
“Fishermen in Alaska rely heavily on the regionally specific, stakeholder-driven MSA process to ensure that the needs of all fishermen are accounted for and considered. It is critical that the Council process continues to be the primary pathway for new fisheries regulations. Members of Congress should be supporting this proven management framework, not trying to erode it, bypass it, or hand management over to states.”
Shannon Carroll, Fisheries Policy Director for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council
Anchorage, Alaska
 
“The Magnuson Stevens Act is protecting not only fish stocks, but also the fishermen who rely on them. MSA has provided important community protections that ensure our small boat fleets are able to access the fisheries and provide fresh fish to their families and communities. During this fly-in, we were able to spend time with Congressional offices discussing ways to further strengthen and expand community protections in any MSA reauthorization bill. As the composition and needs of fishing communities continue to evolve, the MSA should offer assurance that fishermen will be able to access their resource."
Linda Behnken, Executive Director for the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association
Sitka, Alaska
 
“During our visit to D.C., we were able to highlight the continued need for improved accountability in our fisheries. Right now, we are working with a number of small boats in the New England fleet to install electronic monitoring systems that will go live on May 1st. We hope that we can continue to implement electronic technologies not just in New England, but in every region, to help augment the human observer system currently in place. Additionally, we hope that any MSA reauthorization will recognize the benefits of electronic technologies and support more fully incorporating them into observing and management.”
Ben Martens, Executive Director for Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association
Brunswick, Maine
 
Our day and half of meetings in Washington, D.C. culminated with a wildly successful FishTales, our 4th annual happy hour event where commercial fishermen and industry representatives engaged with Hill staff and other ‘fish folk’ here in D.C in an informal and comfortable setting.