Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation & Management Act
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act is the principal law governing marine fisheries in the United States. It was originally adopted to extend control of U.S. waters to 200 nautical miles in the ocean; to phase out foreign fishing activities within this zone; to prevent overfishing, especially by foreign fleets; to allow overfished stocks to recover; and to conserve and manage fishery resources. The Act is named after the late Senators Warren Magnuson of Washington and Ted Stevens of Alaska.
Congress passed the original Magnuson Act in 1976. It has since been amended several times, most recently in 2006. Among other things, the Act explains the role of regional fishery management councils and describes their functions and operating procedures. The Act includes national standards for management and outlines the contents of fishery management plans. In addition, it gives the Secretary of Commerce power to review, approve, and implement fishery management plans and other recommendations developed by the councils. National Marine Fisheries Service (under the Department of Commerce) is charged with stewardship of the nation’s living marine resources. With input from the regional councils and stakeholder groups, National Marine Fisheries Service provides guidance for applying the National Standards of the Act.
Summary of national standards of the Magnuson-Stevens Act
- Prevent overfishing while achieving optimum yield.
- Be based upon the best scientific information available.
- Manage individual stocks as a unit throughout their range, to the extent practicable; interrelated stocks shall be managed as a unit or in close coordination.
- Not discriminate between residents of different states; any allocation of privileges must be fair and equitable.
- Where practicable, promote efficiency, except that no such measure shall have economic allocation as its sole purpose.
- Take into account and allow for variations among and contingencies in fisheries, fishery resources, and catches.
- Minimize costs and avoid duplications, where practicable.
- Take into account the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities to provide for the sustained participation of, and minimize adverse impacts to, such communities (consistent with conservation requirements).
- Minimize bycatch or mortality from bycatch.
- Promote safety of human life at sea.