MSA – Fishing rule gives regional councils more flexibility on catch limits

DC-marchThe rule, already under fire from environmental groups in a rare conflict with the administration, could help mollify the recreational fishing industry and its Republican allies in Congress. They’ve criticized the administration for not relaxing restrictions on catches, given that many fish stocks have rebounded dramatically over the past few years. Officials with the fisheries division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the change, years in the making, strikes an appropriate balance between current law, which has helped rescue dozens of once over-fished stocks, and the needs of the economically vital recreational and commercial industry. Some environmental groups oppose the change, saying that giving more “flexibility” to the eight regional councils that set catch limits in federal waters could soften protections that have worked well. “Unfortunately, the new rules weaken the foundations of U.S. sustainable fisheries management,” said Meredith Moore, director of the fish conservation program at Ocean Conservancy. “By allowing risky management decisions that leave stocks at low levels, we leave fish populations and fishing communities vulnerable.” Read the story here.  Read the NOAA press release – NOAA announces revisions to federal fishery management guidelines click here 20:07