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Statement By Matt Ruby, President, SAFA On U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Legislating Hearing On Proposals To Amend Magnuson-Stevens Act

December 1, 2011

December 1, 2011

The South Atlantic Fishermen's Association (SAFA) appreciates efforts by Congress to ensure that the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act provides the right management tools and ensures that sound science is used to support local decision-making in fishery management.  Unfortunately, a number of the proposals considered by the House Natural Resources Committee today would undercut those goals, especially with respect to the ability of the councils to utilize catch share programs.

Our members strongly support efforts to improve fishery management and have been active stakeholder participants with the regional councils, NOAA, and Congress to do just that.  But the legislative proposals by Reps. Runyan (H.R. 1646 and H.R. 2772) and Pallone (H.R. 594 and H.R. 3061), in particular, undermine the process and the very efforts being undertaken by the councils to preserve jobs, improve the livelihoods of fishermen and sustain our fishery resources.

We continue to believe that the Magnuson-Stevens Act has established a good approach to managing the resource – regional fishery management councils.  The council process, while it may not be perfect, is an effective means of ensuring fisherman input in decision-making on critical issues of management and conservation.  It must be preserved.

Most importantly, we strongly believe that fishermen should have the ability to consider all fishery management options and choose those that are best for their businesses and the future health of the fisheries in which they work.  The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides valuable tools to achieve those objectives, including permitting councils to consider catch share programs, which have proven successful in a number of fisheries throughout the nation. 

SAFA is disappointed to see the U.S. House of Representatives considering legislation that would undermine the council process, minimize the voices of fishermen in a stakeholder driven process, and take away proven fishery management options.  SAFA will continue to oppose such legislative efforts.

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