Despite widespread support for a bill that would change the rules and requirements around saltwater fishing, the Obama administration said it will veto the bill if it passes.
On Saturday a diverse group of 20 businesses, 51 organizations and 80 individuals representing fishermen and fishing communities from the East, West and Gulf coasts jointly signed a letter supporting HR 1335, the "Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act.”
They delivered the letter to Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, supporting the bill, which would reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the document that governs saltwater fishing regulations for the commercial and the recreational industries.
Supporters of the reauthorization, which was authored by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said it would maintain the successful aspects of fisheries management under Magnuson-Stevens while providing much-needed flexibility and economic relief to fishing communities.
The letter does state opposition to a proposed amendment that would give states control over red snapper management, saying that “one radical sportsmen’s group … insists on taking the fishery out of jurisdiction of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.”
“This proposed change, supported largely by recreational fishing interests, would, according to the signatories of the letter, undermine the process in place under existing law to deal with the complex issues surrounding this fishery,” said a statement from the advocacy group Saving Seafood.
A statement the White House issued Tuesday said the bill would impose “arbitrary and unnecessary requirements that would harm the environment and the economy.”
“The MSA currently provides the flexibility needed to effectively manage the nation's marine commercial, recreational and subsistence fisheries,” the statement read. “In contrast, H.R. 1335 would undermine the use of science-based actions to end and prevent overfishing.”
The bill also would “severely undermine the authority of the Gulf of Mexico Regional Fishery Management Council by extending state jurisdiction over the recreational red snapper fishery to nine miles in the Gulf of Mexico,” the statement read.
“This proposed extension of jurisdiction would create an untenable situation where recreational and commercial fishermen fishing side by side would be subject to different regulatory regimes,” it said. “Absent an agreement among the states as to how to allocate recreationally caught red snapper, the bill would encourage interstate conflict and jeopardize the sustainability of this Gulf-wide resource.”
“If the president were presented with H.R. 1335, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill,” it said.