N.Y. senator introduces fisheries management bill

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U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., plans to introduce legislation in the Senate that he says will bring science-based modernization and flexibility to the federal rules on fisheries management.

The Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2009 is similar to one authored in the House by U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J. Both bills are designed to allow fish stocks to rebuild while also taking consideration of the economic consequences to fishermen and fishing communities.

"We need better science and more flexibility in our fishing management regulations," Schumer said in a statement.

He says the current system not only falls short of keeping fishing stocks healthy, but is also hurting the Long Island fishing community.

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act currently requires most fisheries designated by the Department of Commerce's National Marine Fisheries Service as "overfished" be completely rebuilt within 10 years, a timeline Schumer argues is arbitrary, often too broad, not based on available science and lacking reasonable exceptions.

He says the 10-year deadline has produced stringent quotas imprecisely limiting Long Island fishermen's catch, and the lack of management flexibility in the current regime prevents regulators from pursuing a more balanced approach based on the most up-to-date science.

"Our legislation provides some much-needed balance and flexibility within the existing system to both preserve our fishing stocks and allow fisheries to thrive and grow," Schumer said.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance praised Schumer for his efforts.

"Senator Schumer clearly recognizes the flaws in the current legislation and understands that the fishing communities on Long Island are under unnecessary stress from the current law," said RFA's executive director, Jim Donofrio, in a statement.

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