Tuesday, April 12th, 2016
Sam Rauch, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs of NOAA Fisheries, visited the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting today to observe the 40th anniversary of Federal fisheries management under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and to discuss ongoing programs of National Marine Fisheries Service. The Magnuson-Stevens Act, or MSA, is the foundation of fisheries management in the United States, and was enacted on April 13, 1976. The MSA created eight Regional Fishery Management Councils that support transparent regional management of the nation’s fisheries.
“The strength of the MSA is that it created the Council system, which has worked extraordinarily well in terms of making sure that decisions are transparent, are science-based and have stakeholder input,” said Rauch. “It allows us to make deliberative decisions together, as opposed to in a black box. It is what has built the success that we have enjoyed. In the last few years we have consistently had either record or near-record landings, nationally. At the same time, we have also made significant strides in reducing the number of stocks that are on the overfished list, and that are subject to overfishing. Those continue to be at either all-time lows or near all-time lows. [The status of fish stocks] is something the Councils should be proud of, because this is where the hard work happens to make all that possible. The regional Councils are the bodies that make all the tough decisions.”
Rauch went on to discuss NOAA’s draft National Bycatch Reduction Strategy. The proposal continues the nation’s momentum on reducing bycatch—when fishermen catch fish they don’t want, can’t keep, or aren’t allowed to keep. Bycatch can also occur when fishing gear harms or kills marine mammals, seabirds, corals, sponges, sea turtles, or protected fish. NOAA Fisheries is accepting public comment on the draft strategy through June 3.
Rauch also discussed the President’s task force on illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing. A new NOAA program beginning this fall will track the origin of certain at-risk stocks imported into the United States, leading to a safer and higher quality seafood product for consumers.
Recently, a peer-reviewed study determined that the U.S. fisheries management system meets U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization standards for sustainable fishing. “U.S. fisheries are the best managed in the world,” said Rauch.