In House Testimony, FCC Representative Ben Martens Outlines Commercial Fishing Priorities for Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization

Washington, DC – In testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans, Ben Martens, Executive Director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association (MCFA), a founding member of the Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC), called on Congress to stand by the historically successful legislation and make it even more effective in protecting and building sustainable fisheries nationwide.

“While we believe the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) is working well, reauthorization presents an opportunity to build on the foundational principles of the law that have brought so many of America’s fisheries back from the brink,” said Martens. “Our priorities include strong science-based decision-making, improving fishery data collection, ensuring accountability from all harvesters of the resource and better protecting our vital commercial fishing communities.”

The FCC has submitted a legislative package (see testimony for details) reflecting the shared priorities of more than 1,000 small-boat, community fishermen as Congress considers reauthorization of the MSA.

In his testimony, Martens made it clear that while the MCFA and FCC do not support existing legislative proposals (H.R.200 and H.R.2023) in their current form, the organizations support certain provisions of these bills and stand ready to work with Congress to build on the successful track record of the MSA.

“We look forward to working with Congress to find a path forward for reauthorization that does not compromise or roll back the great progress we have seen to date,” added Martens. “The future of Maine’s fishing communities and countless others across the country depend on it.”

The FCC’s legislative package focuses on six priority areas:

  • Council Accountability, Transparency and Public Process
  • Financing of Fisheries Monitoring Programs
  • Recreational Fishing / Catch Limits
  • Improved Forage Fish Management
  • Strengthening Fishing Communities
  • Supporting the Next Generation of Commercial Fishermen

Martens’s testimony comes less than two weeks after Captain Bubba Cochrane of Galveston, TX, a commercial fisherman and President of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, an FCC member, testified on MSA reauthorization before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard.