House passes bill to overhaul fishery management
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The House on Monday passed legislation to overhaul federal management of marine fisheries nationwide.

Passage fell largely along party lines by a vote of 225-152.

The measure would amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act, first enacted in 1976, that is aimed at preventing overfishing, replenishing depleted fish stocks and sustaining the seafood supply. Magnuson-Stevens further established eight regional councils to develop plans for local fishery management.

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Monday’s bill would, among other provisions, set timeframes for rebuilding expended fisheries based on how the individual stock would replenish itself naturally plus the timespan of one generation, instead of within a ten-year requirement. It would also replace the current requirement that fish stocks be restored in the shortest timeframe “possible” with “practicable.”

Supporters of the measure say that many of the deadlines are arbitrary and inflexible.

“This bill is a win for consumers, it’s a win for the industry that puts food on our tables, it’s a win for the restaurants, it’s a win for the recreational fishermen, it’s a win for better and more transparent science, it’s a win for our environment, it’s a win for the American taxpayers,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopOvernight Energy: GOP chairman has 'more questions' on Whitefish deal | Dems slam EPA science board changes | Industry pushes back on Perry grid plan GOP chairman has ‘more questions’ about Puerto Rico’s Whitefish Energy contract The SECURE American Energy Act only endangers public lands MORE (R-Utah). 

But environmental groups and many Democrats warned that the measure would weaken fisheries. 

“This legislation takes us backward by undermining decades of successful sustainable fisheries management and is contradictory to the last two strongly bipartisan reauthorizations of the Magnuson-Stevens Act in 1996 and 2006,” League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski wrote in a letter to House members urging them to vote against the bill.

Democrats said the legislation was being used as an opportunity to roll back environmental protections.

“Instead of working with us to craft thoughtful, targeted legislation to update Magnuson, Republicans have taken this as an opportunity to assault bedrock conservation laws while at the same time taking us back to fisheries management policies that we have known have failed fishing communities in the past,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.

The White House issued a veto threat against the bill, warning in a Statement of Administration Policy that it “would undermine the use of science-based actions to end and prevent overfishing.”

— Timothy Cama contributed.