RELEASE: Ten Years after Magnuson-Stevens Act, U.S. Fisheries are the Best Managed in the World

Washington, D.C. — United States fisheries are the most sustainably managed in the world. Critical legislation has governed federal fisheries for the past four decades, and the enactment of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act, or MSRA, 10 years ago provided science-based management measures that have maintained the health of the U.S. ocean ecology and economy.

However, it is time to think about what comes next for the U.S. fisheries industry. The Center for American Progress has released a report looking at the successes of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and offering science-based recommendations to maintain and improve the health of U.S. fisheries over the next 10 years. The report was released at an event on the legacy of the MSRA featuring former Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Jane Lubchenco; Maria Damanaki, global managing director for oceans at the Nature Conservancy; and Margaret Spring, vice president of conservation and science at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

“It is no fluke that U.S. fisheries are among the best managed in the world,” said Michael Conathan, Director of Ocean Policy at CAP and co-author of the report. “The success of our science-based fishery management regime that has evolved over four decades of legislative oversight has made the resource far more sustainable while sustaining coastal economies. Now in the 21st century, federal fisheries face daunting challenges, including ocean warming and acidification stemming from climate change. The MSRA and its predecessors have made U.S. fisheries the healthiest in the world but it is now time to update these efforts to ensure their sustainability into the next century.”

The paper makes the following recommendations:

  • Regulators should work to account for changes in fishery dynamics that fishermen around the country are already experiencing as a result of climate change, including ocean acidification and warming.
  • Ecosystem-based management should be prioritized as a tool to facilitate a holistic fisheries management.
  • To increase accountability and data collection, NOAA should aggressively pursue the development and deployment of electronic monitoring systems for fishing vessels.
  • Congress should appropriate additional funding for ocean observation and baseline research to facilitate data collection and stock assessment science.
  • Using the MSRA’s strong international provisions, the Obama administration should finalize regulations aimed at curtailing illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing abroad.
  • U.S. leaders and government officials should press the International Maritime Organization to expand application of its vessel monitoring and registration standards to include all fishing vessels operating on the high seas.

Click here to read the report.
Click here to watch the live stream of the event.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at tcaiazza@americanprogress.org or 202.481.7141.