Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) released this statement after voting in favor of H.R. 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act:
“The Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization we passed today is important for the commercial and recreational fishermen who depend on access to our oceans and its resources, while also securing access to fresh, sustainable seafood for American consumers. Importantly, this legislation includes many priorities for the recreational fishing and boating community, by providing regional fisheries managers the flexibility to manage fish stocks effectively and to better tailor their management plans to the needs of their specific regions. H.R. 200 replaces arbitrary rebuilding timeframes of fish stocks with science-based objectives and expands access for recreational and commercial fishermen without eroding conservation goals.
“Also included in this legislation is a provision that I put forward that would bridge the gap between policy makers and those on the water every day. It would require the Secretary of Commerce to develop and publish a plan to conduct stock assessments for all stocks of fish for which a fishery management plan is in effect. These plans must incorporate data, analysis, and stock assessments from nongovernmental sources, like our recreational fishermen, into fisheries management decisions. This piece of the legislation will lead to timely, valid stock assessments, improve the science behind stock assessments, and reduce the costs of monitoring fisheries.
“As a major economic engine in the United States, the seafood industry has generated $208 billion in sales and created 1.2 million American jobs. Saltwater fishing supports 439,242 jobs and an economic impact of $63.4 billion. It is critical that we properly manage this sector, incorporating the needs of both recreational and commercial fishermen. This legislation makes the necessary changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act to allow for better management of our nation’s natural resources.”
H.R. 200 passed the House by a vote of 222 to 193 and now awaits consideration in the Senate.
Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he is the Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.