Federal Agency Weakens Protections for Vulnerable Fish Populations


Media Contact:
Josh Block
jblock@clf.org
(617) 850-1709

CLF says decision prioritizes short-term profit over long-term sustainability

October 14, 2016 (BOSTON, MA) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statement today in response to new revisions to the “National Standards” released by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries. The “National Standards” were originally enacted by Congress in 1976 to control critical aspects of fisheries management in the United States, including requiring science-based catch limits, rebuilding vulnerable populations of fish and other issues key to ensuring sustainable fisheries. Today’s reforms weaken these standards by reintroducing discretionary practices outlawed by the 2006 revisions to the Magnuson-Stevens Act signed into law by President George W. Bush.

“Before 2006, the New England Fishery Management Council took advantage of legal loopholes that produced disaster for our region’s fish and fishermen, decimating species like Atlantic cod and yellowtail flounder and creating long-term barriers to success for those who make a living in our waters,” said CLF senior counsel Peter Shelley. “It took a concerted effort from CLF and hundreds of community partners to right the ship and provide opportunities for important fish species to repopulate, but today’s decision unravels a decade of progress. By allowing room for more subjectivity and more flexibility within its regulations, NOAA Fisheries has weakened management tools that have been used successfully to restore over thirty fisheries once in severe decline.”

NOAA Fisheries is the federal agency responsible for stewardship of the nation’s fisheries under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management and Conservation Act.

CLF experts are available for further comment.

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