NOAA seeks public comment for proposed revisions of fishery management standards

By: Parimal M. Rohit

Anglers will have a little more than four months to submit public comments to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) proposed revisions to a federal law that helps the country’s eight fishery management councils develop regulatory plans. Saltwater and freshwater fishing in Southern California would be impacted if the proposed revisions are adopted.

The proposed revisions would not add new regulations but instead clarify how each fishery management council can meet current Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act mandates.

“The proposed revisions clarify and streamline the National Standard guidelines, address concerns raised by partners and stakeholders during the implementation of annual catch limits and accountability measures, and provide flexibility to address fishery management issues,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “The proposed revisions, if implemented, will result in better-managed and more sustainable fisheries.”

National Standard 1, 3 and 7 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act would be revised under the current proposal.

According to NOAA, the three national standards regulate overfishing, stock management and cost efficiency.

The NOAA hopes the proposed revisions, if adopted, would make the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act’s guidelines more streamlined and flexible. Specifically, the proposed revisions aim to increase flexibility in setting timelines for rebuilding programs and managing data-limited stocks, clarify guidance on stocks that require conservation and management, enhance efforts to apply ecosystem approaches, provide guidance on multiyear overfishing determinations, add a definition for “depleted stocks” and recommend each council to re-evaluate the objectives of its fishery management plans in an attempt to ensure each plan is adaptive.

Public comments will be accepted by the NOAA through June 30.

More information about the proposed revisions and how to submit comments is available at nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/laws_policies/national_standards/ns1_revisions.html.

Information about the recreational fishery governing California’s waters can be found at westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/recreational/recreational_fishing_wcr.html.

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