Protecting our Fishing Economy

The federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, or MSA, has governed U.S. 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 Magnuson-Stevens Act’s success in helping many fish stocks to rebound. Since 2000, the MSA has helped 47 fish populations rebound to healthy numbers, helping to grow jobs and the economy in the process.

But with Atlantic 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 fights for fisheries 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 want 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 Magnuson-Stevens Act’s four main provisions aim to prevent overfishing, rebuild overfished stocks, increase long-term economic and social benefits, and ensure a safe and sustainable supply of seafood. The federal law 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 have even plateaued or declined. New England now has more overfished populations than any other region in the country.

One of these still-struggling populations is Atlantic cod. 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 while keeping the needs of our coastal communities in mind.

A strengthened Magnuson-Stevens Act is the best way to help our fisheries become and remain sustainable. We must ensure that cod won’t just be part of our history, but our future, too.