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  1. Opinion

Column: Don't hurt fisheries with dangerous legislation

William Hogarth, left, and Steven Murawski were the director and chief scientist, respectively, of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service in 2007 when the Magnuson Stevens Act was passed. Both are currently at the University of South Florida. The status of the nation\u2019s fishery stocks can be viewed at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/population-assessments/fishery-stock-status-updates.
Published Jul. 9, 2018

This Wednesday the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on H.R. 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act. We believe this is an ill-conceived, dangerous piece of legislation that would undermine the tremendous progress in fisheries rebuilding and sustainable management that has occurred since the latest reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act in 2007.

Since 2007, more than 40 of the most overfished and historically important fish stocks in the nation have been recovered. Overfishing now occurs for fewer than 10 percent of stocks, the lowest proportion since records have been kept. Rebuilding stocks has resulted in increases in fisheries yields and translated into lower prices to consumers, more business-friendly approaches to commercial fisheries management and more healthy recreational fisheries.

The term "flexibility" in H.R. 200 is a code word that would undermine timely, effective management of stocks when downturns inevitably occur. Heavy on requirements for studies and other administrative requirements, H.R. 200 would make fisheries management more cumbersome. The bill as written would delay timely, effective conservation responses and would limit the flexibility to use innovative management tools. Healthy fisheries without healthy stocks is a non sequitur. We urge the House to reject this piece of legislation that seeks to solve problems that simply do not exist.

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