New MSA bill addresses climate change

July 29, 2021

New legislation to reauthorize the primary law governing federal fisheries management and conservation introduced in the U.S. House would boost tribal participation in the regional council process.

Past efforts to update and reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act have languished in Congress in part because many in the industry were generally happy with the law as it is, said Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., who noted his bill includes several provisions that certain Alaska groups have been requesting for a long time.

Huffman, the chair of the Oceans Subcommittee of the House Resources Committee, conducted several public hearings on the matter to get stakeholder input before introducing the legislation on Monday, July 26, with Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawaii, who serves on the Oceans Subcommittee with him.

Huffman’s bill, Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act, will strengthen fishing communities and ensure a high standard of sustainable fisheries management continues well into the future, he said.

“We know that the MSA has worked well, but new approaches are needed in this era of climate change, new technologies, evolving science needs, and increasing ocean use,” he said.

The new legislation also reflects feedback that Huffman received from over 50 organizations and individuals who sent comments on the discussion draft released in December of 2020.

Features of the bill include incorporating climate science, adding climate to fisheries research priorities; setting a timeline for the federal government to respond to fishery disaster requests and disbursal of appropriated funds; and increasing support for the seafood industry participation in U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marking Service programs. The legislation would also add two tribal representative seats to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council; and would require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop with stakeholders a contingency plan for pandemics and other emergencies that make it impractical to use human observers and conduct stock assessments.

A summary of the bill is online at and the entire text is online at

By:  Margaret Bauman
Source: The Cordova Times