Protecting our Fishing Economy

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, or MSA, has been the primary U.S. law governing fisheries since 1976. It’s up for reauthorization by Congress, leaving it vulnerable to attacks from special interests who want to see its core provisions weakened, not strengthened.

CLF in Action  

We know it’s possible to operate fisheries that boost the economy and sustain fish populations, largely thanks to the MSA’s success in helping many fish stocks to rebound. But with cod and other fish populations still struggling to recover from overfishing, now is not the time to roll back protections – we need to strengthen the federal fisheries law to ensure that these vulnerable species, and the fishing communities that depend on them, can bounce back for good.

CLF has fought for decades for regulations based on sound science to achieve long-term results and help fishing communities thrive. We know that more work remains to continue this progress. That’s why we’re working to ensure the next iteration of the Magnuson-Stevens Act builds on the law’s success to help more fish populations recover.

What’s at Stake

The MSA’s four main provisions are aimed at preventing overfishing, rebuilding overfished stocks, increasing long-term economic and social benefits, and ensuring a safe and sustainable supply of seafood. The MSA has helped boost the health of many U.S. fisheries, growing jobs and the economy in the process. But in some places – including here in New England – some critical fish populations have been slow to rebound (some even plateauing or getting worse).

One of these still-struggling populations is Atlantic cod. This iconic fish was once so abundant that fishermen told stories of cod jumping up into their boats. That it has been overfished for decades and is not rebounding is a source of frustration for all of us. Threats from climate change and ocean acidification compound the problem. We must do more to make sure that cod and all our commercially-important species are managed with the best available science and our coastal communities in mind.

A strengthened MSA is the best way to ensure our fisheries can become and remain sustainable. Learn more about the MSA and how you can help here.