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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Senate Passes Fisheries Reauthorization Bill

The Senate passed the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) (S. 2012) on June 19, 2006 by unanimous consent. The MSA was first passed in 1976 and is being considered for amendment and reauthorization in 2006. It authorizes appropriations to support the Department of Commerce for fiscal years 2006 through 2012. The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service operates our federal fisheries management system. The legislation is cosponsored by Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI). A similar bill, sponsored by Representatives Richard Pombo (R-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA) and Don Young (R-AK) is now pending in the House of Representatives.

The MSA reauthorization proposal seeks to:

(1) promote wider use of market-based fishery management tools,
(2) improve the operations of Regional Fishery Management Councils,
(3) end overfishing and achieve fishery rebuilding,
(4) incorporate ecosystem-based approaches in our fishery management process,
(5) strengthen the role of science in the decision-making process,
(6) upgrade the collection and use of recreational fisheries data,
(7) conform the MSA procedures with the objectives of other environmental laws, and
(8) enhance the enforcement tools available so penalties become a true punishment.

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