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Committee Democrats Politicize Historically Bipartisan Fisheries Law


WASHINGTON, D.C., September 21, 2022 -

Today, House Committee on Natural Resources Democrats held a markup on H.R. 4690, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.). Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) issued the following statement in response:

"My good friend and colleague, the late Congressman Young, shepherded the Magnuson-Stevens Act through the House when it was originally introduced and was a strong advocate for bipartisan reauthorizations to this critical piece of legislation. Given this bipartisan legacy, it's extremely disappointing to see committee Democrats throw precedent to the wind and disregard Mr. Young's tireless advocacy. This bill is a Trojan horse. Some may attempt to sell it as merely a reauthorization, but in reality the bill would line the pockets of trial lawyers, increase food prices and leave American fisheries behind. The Dean of the House deserves better than having his life's work undermined by party politics." 

Background

The Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) is the primary law governing fisheries resources and fishing activities in federal waters. Initially passed in 1976, the MSA's original intent was to prevent overfishing, rebuild over-fished stocks, increase long-term social and economic benefits and ensure a safe, sustainable seafood supply.

H.R. 4690 would overhaul the MSA and create inflexible new requirements and grant the Secretary of Commerce expansive new authorities to reduce access to fishing opportunities.

MSA reauthorizations have historically been bipartisan. Despite numerous efforts from the late U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) to reauthorize this bill in a bipartisan manner, H.R. 4690 is a partisan product of one hearing and non-committee events that did not follow regular order. 

Many stakeholders that support maintaining healthy and productive fisheries have spoken up against the legislation, pointing out the flaws in multiple letters. Read the full letters here, here and here.

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-225-2761

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