Byrne Applauds Committee Passage of Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization
Washington, DC – May 29, 2014 – Today, Representative Bradley Byrne (AL-1) applauded passage of the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act out of the House Natural Resources Committee. This act reauthorizes the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, last reauthorized in 2006, which has jurisdiction over all federal fisheries, including authorizations for setting Red Snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico each year.
Representative Byrne speaks in support of his amendment to remove stock assessment responsibilities held by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
Major reforms in the Chairman’s mark of the legislation and subsequently passed by the committee include:
- Repeal of Section 407(d) mandating quotas on Red Snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Rep. Byrne introduced legislation, the SNAPR Act, which would repeal this section to allow for greater flexibility in setting federal fishing seasons.
- Extension of Alabama state water boundary to 9 nautical miles from shore, effectively giving the state more control over its resources and the option for a more reasonable fishing season.
Additionally, Representative Byrne introduced an amendment accepted by the full committee that would remove the stock assessment and data collection responsibilities for reef fish currently held by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), transferring this authority to the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, a state-run organization. Byrne has concurred with experts like Dr. Bob Shipp of the University of South Alabama who argue that the federal government’s data collection practices are flawed and do not accurately reflect the amount of Red Snapper stocks in the Gulf of Mexico. This provision will provide more reliable data on which fishery managers are able to base management decisions moving forward.
Byrne said: “Today’s committee vote is an important step forward in restoring sanity to the regulatory process in the Gulf of Mexico. This reauthorization makes needed reforms to federal fisheries policy that will allow greater flexibility in decision-making for the Gulf Council and more stability for our fishermen. Most importantly, it returns authority back to the states, who are more capable of managing this issue than the federal government.
“Our fishermen and coastal communities are depending on us to fight for a reasonable season that supports jobs and tourism in Southwest Alabama. I thank Chairman Hastings and Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Fleming for their hard work on this issue. I will stand together with my colleagues on the Gulf Coast and on the House Natural Resources Committee to fight for a Red Snapper season that allows this industry to thrive.”
Video of Representative Byrne’s amendment being adopted in Committee proceedings can be found here.