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Huffman, Case Introduce the Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act, Legislation to Update Federal Fisheries Management

July 26, 2021

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), Chair of the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee, and subcommittee member Ed Case (D-Honolulu) introduced the Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act, legislation to update and reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the primary law governing federal fisheries management and conservation that has made the U.S. a global leader in sustainable fisheries. This legislation is the culmination of a two year-long process Rep. Huffman led to get stakeholder input, including a nationwide listening tour and release of a discussion draft for feedback – part of his ongoing effort to foster a uniquely transparent, inclusive, science-based approach to updating this important law governing fisheries in American waters.

“Americans coast-to-coast depend on healthy oceans and fisheries, whether it’s the seafood we eat, time spent on the water as recreational anglers, or the economic engine supporting working waterfronts and coastal communities. We know that the MSA has worked well, but new approaches are needed in this era of climate change, new technologies, evolving science needs, and increasing ocean use,” said Rep. Huffman. “Through our stakeholder-driven, science-based approach, we have crafted legislation that rises to the challenges of the 21st Century and includes critical updates to this landmark law. With the Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act we can strengthen fishing communities and ensure a high standard of sustainable fisheries management continues well into the future. I am committed to continuing to work with stakeholders and my colleagues as we move this legislation forward.” 

“I’m proud to join Chair Huffman in introducing this landmark reauthorization of our nation’s Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act,” stated Rep. Case. “This reauthorization provides critical updates to ensure the long-term sustainability of our fisheries by integrating climate change as a critical consideration. I’m especially pleased that this bill includes significant reforms to promote accountability, transparency and representation for our nation’s fisheries management councils. These councils are charged with the stewardship of our fisheries, a precious natural resource that all Americans have a vital interest in protecting for long-term sustainability. These are long overdue and necessary reforms to ensure long-term public trust in the work that these councils are doing on behalf of our nation.”

In an effort to include as many opinions and viewpoints as possible, Rep. Huffman and Rep. Case held eight listening sessions and covered seven management regions on their nationwide fisheries listening tour. They heard from 80 different experts and stakeholders, in addition to public comments from dozens of members of the public in person and online. Many of the issues raised during the listening tour are addressed in the bill, such as: climate change and shifting stocks; improving science, using new technologies, and modernizing fisheries data systems; supporting fishing communities and addressing the broken disaster relief system, increasing seafood marketing, and encouraging cooperation between industry and managers; making sure management doesn’t move backward on gains made in rebuilding and reducing overfishing; giving more teeth to essential fish habitat consultation; and increasing accountability and transparency in fisheries management. Several bipartisan pieces of legislation and provisions that were in previous MSA legislation are also included in the bill.

The representatives released a discussion draft in December 2020 and solicited stakeholder feedback over the past year; comments from over 50 organizations and individuals were considered and are reflected in the Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act. From the very beginning, this has been one of the most deliberative, transparent efforts to reauthorize the MSA. 

Additional Resources

  • Text of the bill can be found here.
  • A one-pager of the bill can be found here.
  • A section by section of the bill can be found here.
  • A summary of differences between the bill and the discussion draft can be found here.
  • Redline edits to the MSA, as proposed by the bill, can be found here.

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