Natural Resources Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Huffman Fisheries Management Bill, Legislation Slated to Move Forward

November 16, 2021

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife, chaired by Representative Jared Huffman (CA-02), examined the Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act, authored by Reps. Huffman and Ed Case (HI-01). The legislation aims to update and reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the primary law governing federal fisheries management and conservation that has made the U.S. a global leader in sustainable fisheries.

Click here to watch a recording of Rep. Huffman’s remarks. A full recording of the hearing can be found here. 

“America is truly a leader in sustainable fisheries management, but the MSA hasn’t been reauthorized in over a decade. And while it’s an important law that has stood the test of time, it needs some updates, particularly concerning the impacts of climate change,” said Rep. Huffman. “Through our uniquely inclusive, transparent process, Rep. Case and I were able to create an MSA reauthorization bill that meets the challenges of the climate crisis and puts the focus back on the needs of fishing communities. From the listening sessions to taking comments, we have genuinely heard from stakeholders all over the board, I’m excited that we were able to take the bill one step further today with this hearing.”

“After a series of stakeholder listening sessions since the fall of 2019, including one in my home state of Hawai‘i, I am pleased that our Subcommittee took this important step forward to improve the management of our oceans and fisheries, which are under accelerating stress.” said Rep Case. “It is more critical now than ever that any extractive practices focus on sustaining and conserving our entire marine ecosystem. The Magnuson-Stevens Act has been and will continue to be our main tool for establishing and administering sound fishing practices and we have to be sure it works now and into the next generations.” 

In an effort to include as many opinions and viewpoints as possible, Reps. Huffman and Case held eight listening sessions and covered seven management regions on their nationwide fisheries listening tour. They heard from 80 different experts and stakeholders, in addition to public comments from dozens of members of the public in person and online.

During the hearing, committee members heard testimony from industry experts and stakeholders.

“HR4690 makes several important changes to improve equity in the fishery management process overall, and for Tribes in particular […] In addition, HR4690 makes important changes to provide more balance in the Council system by requiring broader representation and more balanced appointments. These are essential changes to a broken system, and we support them wholeheartedly,” Ms. Mary Peltola, Executive Director, Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission stated in her written testimony. “We are heartened by the forward-thinking solutions presented in the Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act which will give us the tools we need to restore abundant oceans and continue practicing our way of life.”

“The Fisheries for the Future Act continues this progress by offering comprehensive updates to address current challenges, strengthen sustainable management approaches, and prepare our fisheries for the impacts of climate change,” Ms. Meredith Moore, Director - Fish Conservation Program, Ocean Conservancy stated in her written testimony. “The proposed changes to the MSA contained in the Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act would provide a path to address the impacts of climate change on our fisheries and prepare for the changes ahead in the near and long term. These changes to the law are needed because every part of the conservation and management of fisheries—the research and survey process, stock assessments, management decisions and fishing practices—will be affected by climate change”

What Supporters are Saying

“With the Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act, Chairman Jared Huffman and Rep. Ed Case have given Congress a good starting point for ensuring that our fisheries management system continues to support American livelihoods and coastal economies and is ready to meet the challenges of the future – including for the first time addressing the effects of climate change on U.S. ocean fisheries by incorporating climate science and adaptation strategies into management decisions. The Marine Fish Conservation Network thanks the House Subcommittee for taking action today to move the Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act forward, and we thank Chairman Huffman in particular for his leadership in listening to stakeholders around the country and addressing many of their needs, hopes, and concerns in this bill,” said Robert Vandermark, Executive Director of Marine Fish Conservation Network.

“By investing in science that supports ecosystem-based fishery management and giving managers the tools they need to act with precaution in the face of climate change, the Huffman-Case bill would help preserve the integrity of our ocean ecosystems and sustain fishing opportunities for future generations,” said Wild Oceans President Rob Kramer. “Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act of 2021 recognizes that oceans are warming, fish are moving, and managers do not have the adequate tools to address the consequences. Provisions in the Act maintain the conservation gains of past reauthorizations while building more resilient fisheries that support healthy ecosystems and fishing communities in the face of climate change.”

“Climate change is challenging fisheries management as it has never before been challenged. Rep. Huffman’s Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization bill is an important step toward evolving our fisheries management system to respond quickly to change, buffer stocks against sudden shifts in abundance or distribution, and build resilience into ecosystems by expanding habitat protection.  We look forward to working with Rep. Huffman and the Alaska delegation to address climate change in ways that keep our fisheries and our fishing communities healthy in the years ahead,” said Linda Behnken, Executive Director of Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association.

“Congressman Huffman's bill is a good first step toward addressing climate change, creating more resilient fisheries, and ensuring long-term sustainability of fish populations and our national fishing traditions,” said Kevin Scribner, Founder of Forever Wild Seafood.

“Our ocean and its vast resources are put in the hands of our government for all people and need to be well managed to conserve fish populations, protect other wildlife, sustain fishing communities, and protect our children’s inheritance. Public opinion is clear that Americans from across our country – both coastal and in the heartland – care deeply about the ocean and its life. The Ocean Project looks forward to working closely with Chairman Huffman and other leaders on both sides of the aisle to ensure that our nation leads the world with strong, science-based fisheries conservation policies,” said The Ocean Project Director Bill Mott.

Additional Resources

Text of the bill can be found here.

A one-pager of the bill can be found here.

A section by section of the bill can be found here.