The Magnusen-Stevens Act in regards to fisheries management and conservation recently went under a review process by Congress. It was passed originally in 1976, has been through several review processes since then the most recent being in 2006 to what is is at this time. The Magnuson-Stevens act regulates the waters between 3 miles and 200 miles offshore. There are eight regional fisheries management councils that are authorized under this act. The act provides for management parameters to fisheries within the area including annual catch limits and various systems in place to “end overfishing”. Also included are limited access privilege programs and goals to increase international cooperation.
There are proposed changes or amendments to the act that are notable. Currently under the Arctic FMP (Fisheries Management Plan) there is no commercial fishing permitted. There is a proposed change to allow commercial fishing with has to first go through the North Pacific council.
There is a proposal to change the tools of fisheries managers from minimizing by-catch to avoiding by-catch.
There is a proposal to required stock assessments be conducted every 5 years.
There are many more details to the review process, however there are ecosystem-based policy changes and goals, proposals relating to forage fish management with more emphasis requested to be placed on dependent fish. There are technological based proposals calling for electronic monitoring in the North Pacific.
According to Senator Begich, the list of proposals are based on hearings and listening sessions held both here in Alaska and across the country over the course of a year.
There is no indication what will pass or fail, the processed should be finished by late summer or early fall.