Magnuson Reauthorization draft bill released for House hearing today
NEWS-- February 4, 2014 -- The preliminary markup bill for the reauthorization of Magnuson has been released prior to the House Committee on Natural Resources hearing today.
The major elements in the bill are as follows:
Flexibility in rebuilding
The bill makes a huge number of changes designed to provide councils and NOAA with more flexibility when it is necessary to rebuild a stock.
Some of the language is as follows:
The rebuilding language is changed to allow a three year phase in in some species and to allow rebuilding to be adjusted if the
-“biology of the stock of fish, other environmental conditions, or management measures under an international agreement in which the United States participates dictate”
- “ if the secretary determines the cause of the stock being depleted is outside the jurisdiction of the council or the rebuilding program cannot be effective by only limiting fishing activities”
-"if the Secretary determines that one or more components of a mixed-stock fishery is depleted but cannot be rebuilt within that time-frame without significant economic harm to the fishery or cannot be rebuilt without causing another compo-nent of the mixed-stock fishery to ap- proach a depleted status; ”
-"if the Secretary determines that the stock has been affected by unusual events that make rebuilding within the specified time period im probable without significant economic harm to fishing communities; ’’
It also gives the council’s power to end the application of a rebuilding plan within two years if the council finds the fishery is not depleted, or if a new stock assessment is made that confirms this and allows for rebuilding to be phased in over three years for stocks that have not experienced chronic overfishing.
Annual Catch Limits
The bill also modifies the annual catch limit requirements by adding flexibility:
-" In establishing annual catch limits a Council may consider changes in an ecosystem and the economic needs of the fishing communities."
Also short lived species are to be exempt from an ACL:
The bill says that fish with less than a 1 year life cycle, or a fishery in which more than half a single year class lives 18 months or less, or if fishing mortality will have little impact on the stock, there is no need for an annual catch limit.
Each of these exceptions may be overridden if the Secretary finds that the fishery is subject to overfishing.
Changes the definition of depleted stock
The term ‘depleted’ means, with respect to a stock of fish, that the stock is of a size that is below the natural range of fluctuation associated with the production of maximum sustainable yield."
The bill then goes through and substitutes the word depleted for overfished wherever it is found throughout the Act.
The bill also requires NOAA to state when fishing is not the cause of a stock’s depleted status, and identify those stocks that are classified as depleted for reasons other than from fishing, such as changes in habitat or temperature.
Limitation on East Coast Catch Share Programs
The bill also has a limitation on future East Coast catch share programs:
For New England, the Mid Atlnatic and the Gulf, no catch share program can be developed without a referendum where a majority of existing permit holders vote to establish such a system. Note this requires an absolute majority of permit holders, not simply a majority of those voting. For fisheries with large numbers of small or latent permit holders, this makes catch share programs virtually impossible.
However, this will only apply to future catch share programs, not those whose implementation has begun prior to the effective date of this act.
Finally the bill also has a number of specific regional items applying to the regional councils and fisheries within their jurisdictions.
This story originally appeared on Seafood.com, a subscription site. It has been reprinted with permission.