WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) opposed the Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization legislation offered by House Republicans for threatening important environmental laws. The bill would amend and reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which is the law governing management of fisheries in the United States. Congressman Pallone spoke on the House floor in opposition to the legislation and will vote against it later this evening.
“Unfortunately, the lack of a bipartisan approach has left this bill to reform fisheries policies with unacceptable flaws,” said Congressman Pallone. “While the bill includes important fisheries management reforms I strongly support, I am troubled by the weakening of important environmental protection policies within the legislation. In its current form, the bill lacks Democratic support and would be vetoed by the President.”
The bill’s positive reforms include flexibility language and modifications to annual catch limit requirements. The bill also includes specific language Pallone authored to ensure the fishery management councils are collecting the best information possible about recreational fishing, which would help with the understanding of what is actually happening with fishing in any given year and ensure that healthy fisheries are not closed unnecessarily. The Pallone language would implement a grant program to allow states to improve recreational data collection and require the National Research Council to issue a report on improvements that have been made and need to be made with recreational fishing data collection and surveying.
Pallone, however, is especially concerned by the bill’s weakening of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and the Antiquities Act. For example, the bill would vest NEPA and ESA authority in the fishery management councils instead of with the appropriate federal agencies. Pallone voiced his concern that the regional councils lack the expertise to appropriately review and analyze the impacts and requirements of NEPA or the ESA.
“The fishing industry in New Jersey is a vital economic driver for our state, and I will continue my ongoing efforts to help recreational and commercial fisherman through productive reforms that foster industry growth and environmental protection,” continued Congressman Pallone.
Congressman Pallone has repeatedly called for reforms in federal law to help New Jersey’s recreational and commercial fishermen who can face restrictions in their catch limits based on insufficient data and poor science.