Protect our marine birds and mammals: stop HR 200

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on a bill that would undermine the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). The MSA is the primary law that governs management of ocean fish in U.S. federal waters and has served as the nation’s road map to sustainably managed fisheries.

Rhinoceros Auklet with Sand Lance. Photo by Andrew Reding

The MSA supports our beautiful California marine and coastal birds such as brown pelican, sooty shearwater, California least tern, black-footed albatross and common murre by setting appropriate catch level for forage fish such as anchovy and sardine; protecting habitats like eelgrass beds that support forage fish; and reducing bycatch of seabirds in fisheries.

HR 200, the “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act,” would sabotage two decades of bipartisan progress in the management of our country’s marine fisheries and the seabirds that depend on a healthy ocean. Republicans and Democrats came together in 1976 and created a solution to prevent the collapse of fish populations, and the birds that depend on them, signing the (MSA) into law. Additional bipartisan updates passed in 1996 and 2006.

Take action now by sending a letter or calling  your Representative, asking them to oppose H.R. 200.

Key objectives outlined in the MSA are to prevent overfishing, rebuild overfished stocks, increase long-term economic and social benefits, and ensure a safe and sustainable supply of seafood. The results have been impressive: MSA has proven to be one of our nation’s best laws to protect our fisheries economies and wildlife. Since 2000, 44 overfished populations have been rebuilt to healthy levels;  the needs of predators are meaningfully addressed when setting catch levels for forage fish such as anchovy and sardine; essential fish and bird habitats such as eelgrass beds have been protected; and bycatch of albatrosses and other seabirds has declined dramatically.

HR 200 would remove many common sense provisions that keep fish populations stable, increasing the risk of overfishing and collapse of our California-based fisheries. Examples include removing requirements to set annual catch limits for many species, establishing broad loopholes that diminish conservation efforts, decreasing accountability for overfishing, and rolling back rebuilding timelines for overfished fish stocks. Not only would this directly jeopardize our commercial and recreational fisheries, it would remove provisions for managing the forage fish – anchovies, sardines, and mackerel- on which these larger fish as well as marine birds, whales, and seals, depend. HR 200 would also damage provisions to protect essential habitat and address bycatch.

For the benefit of all Californians and our nation, Congress should reject HR 200 and retain the bipartisan gains we have made over the past two decades to achieve the goal of sustainable marine fisheries.

Please join us to make your voice heard!

Please take a moment to visit our Action Alert page and send a letter to your Representative, asking them to oppose H.R. 200. If you live in California District 5, represented by Mike Thompson, or District 16, represented by Jim Costa, please take the additional step of calling your Representative’s office and stating your opposition to the bill. These Representatives will be key votes in opposing the bill.


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