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Statement: Tampa Bay Waterkeeper opposes bill that would hurt fisheries

At Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, our goal is to make the waters around Tampa Bay swimmable, drinkable, and fishable. Fishable waters rely on having healthy fish stocks and improved water quality.

That’s why we oppose H.R. 200, a current bill before Congress that would substantially weaken the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). It’s a threat to our fish, our coastal communities and the water-loving way of life of millions of Floridians.

Thriving fish populations are an essential part of healthy coastal ecosystems, and support our nation’s fisheries. The MSA has provided the successful foundation for a truly impressive turnaround in our fish and made our fishery management a global gold standard.

The MSA has been improved over time through bipartisan reauthorization efforts. As a result, we have ended much of our overfishing and over 40 fish stocks have been rebuilt to historically high levels. We are now also seeing historically high catches in many fish stocks such as groupers and snappers.  The law has provided increasing opportunities for fishing and eating seafood, and we have largely forgotten how dire things used to be for many of our fisheries.

H.R. 200 is a bad bill that threatens to turn the tide on this positive progress by adding additional “flexibility” to rebuilding stocks and “alternative management measures” for recreational fishing. While that might sound like a positive thing, in reality it will undermine two facets of the law that have led to its success: basing management in science and rebuilding stocks when they are depleted.

The two people responsible for implementing the MSA reauthorization in 2007, who are now Tampa Bay residents, both agree. 

If you value healthy fisheries and enjoy seafood we urge you to reach out to your representative and tell them to work to achieve a bill that builds upon the unprecedented successes of the MSA rather than undermines it.