Rep. Huffman Announces Healthy Oceans & Fisheries Listening Tour in Advance of Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Bill

July 10, 2019

The listening tour will engage diverse perspectives, interests, and needs of individuals who rely on sustainable oceans and fisheries – to inform an inclusive, thoughtful, and transparently developed Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization bill to be introduced next Spring.

Washington, D.C.- As Chair of the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee, Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today announced that he will hold a series of roundtable discussions throughout the United States to engage diverse perspectives, interests, and needs of individuals who have a stake in management of our ocean and fisheries resources.

This listening tour, which kicks off this Fall, is a part of Huffman’s broader work as Chair of the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife subcommittee to foster a more transparent, deliberative, and science-based process for developing natural resources legislation than the backroom deals and partisan power plays that have frustrated good policymaking in recent years. The input Huffman receives from this listening tour, and from other stakeholder outreach that is already underway, will inform his introduction of a Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization bill next Spring. Through this comprehensive and inclusive approach, Huffman hopes to restore the historically bipartisan character of marine fisheries policies including prior successful Magnuson-Stevens reauthorizations.

“From coast to coast, American families and communities depend on healthy oceans and productive fisheries to sustain jobs, businesses, and recreational enjoyment,” said Rep. Huffman. “As Chair of the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee, I want to hear from you on how Congress can help manage our oceans and fisheries to be as environmentally and economically resilient as possible. This public process will inform and improve future marine policy to meet the challenges our oceans and fisheries face in the 21st century, such as climate change, the need to utilize advances in science and technology, to support coastal economies, and to protect ocean and fishery resources to keep faith with future generations.”

The nation’s main fisheries law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, is proof that an emphasis on science and sustainability works. Through its science-based annual catch limits and other provisions, overfishing has been reduced and more than 45 fish stocks have been rebuilt since 2000.  

Rep. Huffman’s goal for this listening tour is to assess whether improvements to the Magnuson-Stevens Act are needed and if so, what they should be. Topics covered in the roundtables will include, but are not limited to:

  • Climate change impacts on fisheries and whether managers have the tools and resources they need to ensure resilient fish populations and stability to fishing communities;
  • Challenges of modernizing and improving our data collection systems;
  • Supporting working waterfronts, coastal communities, and subsistence fishing, such as improving the fisheries disaster relief system and mitigating the harmful impacts of trade wars and unfair, illegal fishing practices;
  • Examining how current fisheries management practices are maintaining ecosystem roles and functions, protecting important habitats, and minimizing bycatch;
  • Challenges associated with stocks that are still unhealthy or experiencing overfishing; and
  • Ensuring equitable access to resources and a sustainable future for seafood.

Rep. Huffman is committed to holding at least one public forum in each of the regions managed by Fishery Management Councils under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and to introducing a draft Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization bill, informed by this public process, by next Spring. Huffman believes the lack of transparency, limited stakeholder engagement, and partisan nature of recent Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization efforts contributed to their demise; and that this new approach will not only produce better legislation, but also a broader, non-partisan base of political support to improve the bill’s chances of passage. 

Specific dates and locations will be announced soon so that stakeholders around the country can determine how best to participate in shaping next year’s Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization bill.