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Committee Democrats Vote Down Proposals Strengthening National Security, Local Fisheries


WASHINGTON, D.C., September 29, 2022 -

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources held votes on the Sustaining America's Fisheries for the Future Act of 2022, finishing a markup begun on Sept. 22, 2022. Committee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) issued the following statement in response:

"No matter where you live in the U.S., you enjoy the products of fisheries. Fishing is a hobby for many sportsmen and women and a way of life for many other Americans who depend on our fisheries, and it's important that the regulations and management standards we implement here in Congress are ones that advance, not hinder, sustainable fishing. Unfortunately, committee Democrats have hijacked the once-bipartisan Magnuson-Stevens Act and turned it into sweeping legislation that would implement impossible standards for fisheries and impede national security operations. Our late colleague Don Young was a champion for these issues and committee Republicans offered a variety of amendments to carry on that legacy, but committee Democrats voted down amendments that would remove unworkable portions of this bill. Ultimately, it will undermine coastal communities but help lawyers. It's extremely disappointing to see party politics dominating on what should be legislation that benefits all Americans."

Background

Committee Republicans offered 14 amendments to improve the bill and correct its implausible new standards, including:

  • An amendment stopping the Secretary of Commerce from designating forage fish species using a broad definition, which would include such important commercial species as Alaska Pollock, America's largest commercial fishery; Pacific Whiting, the largest West Coast commercial fishery; Alaska Pacific Cod; both East and West coast squid; and Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic shrimp, all of which are incredibly valuable food resources. Offered by U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)
  • An amendment prohibiting implementation of the legislation until the Secretary of Commerce certifies that any new regulations, including speed restrictions for right whales, would not restrict fishing opportunities. Offered by U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)
  • An amendment exempting the Department of Defense (DOD) from the onerous Essential Fish Habitat consultation requirements, allowing DOD to continue carrying out essential national security operations. Offered by U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.)
  • An amendment striking Section 503, which proposes significant changes in current federal policy relating to bycatch, which would lead to litigation and fishery closures. Offered by U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.)
  • An amendment striking the Essential Fish Habitat provision, which would add more red tape and litigation, impact interior infrastructure and hamper America's national security needs. Offered by U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.)
Committee Democrats voted down these commonsense amendments and advanced the previously bipartisan legislation along party lines.

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-225-2761

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