Begich takes lead on MSA reauthorization
July 11, 2013
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – The nation’s main fishing law is being retooled. More with Alaska Senator Mark Begich after this –
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Over 80 percent of Alaska’s fish landings come from federal waters, from three to 200 miles offshore.
Since 1976 the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act has been the primary law affecting US fisheries – it created the nation’s eight fishery management councils, and dictates rules for everything from catch quotas, catch shares, observer coverage, habitat protection and much more. The Act is undergoing reauthorization for the first time in seven years.
This is the legislation that manages and sets the parameters to manage not only fish in Alaska but the whole country in federal waters. It’s important that we have the right kind of legislation put together and rules because we want to continue to create sustainable fisheries.
Alaska Senator Mark Begich is chairman of the Senate Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard subcommittee.
As chair of the oceans committee that manages this piece of legislation, it is about the nations fisheries. And we want to make sure that not only do we have sustainable but competitive product that we can put on the plates of not only Americans but all across the globe. So it’s the big piece – it really does dictate for generations to come the fishing industry of this country.
Begich has held listening sessions in Kodiak, Fairbanks and next month in Kenai.
And what we’ve tried to do in these listening sessions is not design it as a debate, but more of a put it on the table, get more opportunities for people to give input, so at the end of the day we as Alaskans can look at it in a broad perspective and determine where and if we need to make modifications.
The main issues he’s heard in Alaska so far, Begich says, include the lack of mention of subsistence needs in the Act, and the need for balance among commercial, sport and subsistence users.
Topping them all is the need to have decisions driven by good science.
Science is a big driver – we hear over and over again, make sure whatever we do continues to be driven by science and not just some political decision or who has the majority on a board or a commission.
Begich is working closely with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the ranking Republican on the Oceans Committee; they will hold more listening sessions in DC and across the country.
Senator Begich expects the MSA to be reauthorized early next year.
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Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. (www.oceanbeauty.com) In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.