WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) today urged his colleagues to amend federal law to allow for more flexible and science-based timelines for fisheries closures in an effort to reduce the negative economic impacts felt by the recreational fishing industry. The effort that Senator LeMieux publicly endorsed on Thursday requires fisheries rebuilding to be completed on a timeline that allows fish stocks to recover without unnecessarily harming the livelihood of recreational fishermen and the fishing industry in general.
“Fishing communities are losing millions of dollars each year because of rigid laws requiring the closure of entire fisheries for extended periods of time – regardless of whether the fish stock has recovered,” LeMieux said. “Basing closure decisions on sound science and environmental conditions will ensure that fisheries are rebuilt in a way that helps to keep fishing communities economically viable, without compromising the goal of protecting fish stocks.”
Senate bill 1255, the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act authored by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), will amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act to allow fishery management plan managers to specify a time period for rebuilding fisheries that is both practical and efficient. The bill maintains the requirement that overfishing be ended within one year but it gives regulators the option of allowing fishing for strong species in a fishery that is currently barred to protect the weakest stock.
Summary of S.1225
Amends the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to allow fishery management plans the flexibility to specify a time period for rebuilding the fishery that is as short as practicable.
Maintains the requirement that overfishing be ended within one year.
Allows exceptions to the requirement that fisheries be rebuilt in ten years based on the biology of the stock of fish or other environmental conditions.
Gives regulators the option of allowing fishing for strong species in a fishery that is now barred to protect the weakest stock.
Allows exemptions to the requirement that fisheries be rebuilt in ten years when the rebuilding program cannot be effective only by limiting fishing activities or when such exemptions will minimize the economic impacts on fishing communities.