Thursday, December 14, 2006

Congress Passes Revision of Magnuson-Stevens Act

Congress passed reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act before it adjourned on Dec 9. The bill reauthorizes the act through 2013. President Bush released the Ocean Action Plan in 2004 as his effort to make our oceans, coasts, and lakes cleaner, healthier, and more productive. President Bush also established the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, the largest single conservation area in the history of the U.S. and the largest protected marine area in the world. Enactment of a stronger Magnuson-Stevens Act was one of the top priorities of the Ocean Action Plan. The revised law seeks to:

* End overfishing of depleted species

* Establish a selling and trading of shares in a fishery to promote conservation

* Empower fishery scientists, not the fishing industry, to set fishing levels;
studying and protect deep sea corals; and

* Allows the U.S. to sanctions countries practicing illegal pirate fishing internationally.

The law also increased summer catch limits for New England flounder. The cap-and-trade program is unique and mirrors the same sort of approach in 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments Acid Rain Program. The 30-year-old law is the main legislation regulating fishery management in ocean waters between 3 miles and 200 miles offshore. S. 2012 & H.R. 5018, the American Fisheries Management and Marine Life Protection Act, sponsored by Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-Calif.), Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)

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