Groups Disagree on Protection Act

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Mueller, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

It depends on who's talking, but the decision by a Congressional committee to send HR 5018, the American Fisheries Management and Marine Life Protection Act, to the full House is either good, bad or somewhere in between.

For those not familiar with HR 5018, the bill would re-authorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), which governs fishery management activities within the federal 200-mile limit through eight regional fishery management councils.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership's (TRCP) Angling 4 Oceans campaign liked the whole deal, saying it welcomed last week's action in the House that would improve the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The TRCP's campaign wanted to make sure issues of importance to recreational anglers would be incorporated into the legislation and it was happy that House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, California Republican, did just that.

"In addition, an amendment accepted by the committee added language that considers the economic impacts of all fishing sectors before making fisheries allocations decisions," the TRCP said.

The TRCP group also includes the national Costal Conservation Association, which said Rep. Pombo understands "the importance of healthy, sustainable fisheries for recreational saltwater fishing to grow and thrive."

On the other side, Lee Crockett, the executive director of the Marine Fish Conservation Network a coalition of more than 175 national and regional environmental organizations, commercial and recreational fishing groups, aquariums, and marine science groups disagreed.

"When it comes to preventing overfishing and rebuilding depleted fish populations, U.S. Representative Richard Pombo is heading in the wrong direction," Crockett said.

Crockett believes the bill does not include measures to hold fishermen accountable if they exceed their annual catch limits.

"Without such accountability measures, catch limits are far less effective in preventing overfishing of our marine fish in U.S. federal ocean waters," he said. …