Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., introduced legislation Thursday designed to safeguard the conservation standards of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, while addressing a growing crisis within the federal marine fisheries management system.
The Fishery Conservation Transition Act aims to give federal marine fisheries managers the time, resources and more specific direction necessary to address the chronic deficiencies in data collection and science.
Nowhere are these deficiencies more acute than in the South Atlantic where the lack of proper data exacerbated problems in the red snapper fishery and may ultimately result in a closure of all bottom fishing in a 5,000-square-mile area, according to a coalition of marine and fishing industry groups who applauded the legislation.
"Once again, Sen. Bill Nelson is offering common-sense, practical legislation that will help protect the great American tradition of boating and fishing while enhancing the ability for federal agencies to properly manage and conserve fisheries based on adequate and meaningful scientific data," National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich said in a statement.
"Healthy and abundant fisheries and recreational access are the key to a strong boating and fishing industry and we applaud Sen. Nelson for his leadership," he added.
In addition to the NMMA, other coalition members include the American Sportfishing Association, The Billfish Foundation, the Center for Coastal Conservation, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and the International Game Fish Association.
"While the Obama administration's outreach to the recreational fishing and conservation community has been encouraging, the need to address the current fisheries management crisis is urgent given 2010 and 2011 MSA deadlines," the coalition said in a joint statement. "After working to find solutions outside the legislative arena to address the unintended consequences of the 2006 MSA reauthorization, the coalition has determined that a legislative remedy such as the FCTA is the only option given the lack of feasible solutions outside the legislative arena."