Jun 13 2012

Senate panel hearing set for Magnuson reform

By Richard Gaines | Staff Writer

As he promised the gathering at a national fishermen’s rally in March, U.S. Charles Schumer, D-N,Y., has secured a commitment for the Senate Commerce Committee to hold oversight hearings this fall on problems with the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

The announcement from the New York senator came last week, after he gained the commitment of Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Mark Begich of Alaska.

In a statement, Schumer said he hoped the hearings “will give a national voice” to concerns “about faulty science and excessively strict quotas that are decimating the industry.”

U.S. Sen. John Kerry is the senior Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee. He has proposed his own legislation, to restore a dedicated funding source for fisheries research and development from seafood import quotas, but also has acknowledged the need to make changes to Magnuson.

Also supporting Magnunson reform is Sen. Scott Brown.

In April, the Republican-controlled House Natural Resources Committee, where the reform movement is stronger, began drafting “a comprehensive” change to Magnuson, the overriding fisheries management law, in an attempt to ensure that NOAA makes “informed decisions based on sufficient scientific information,” Chairman Doc Hastings told the Times.

The presidential election and the Democratic control of the Senate all but insures that no substantive action on a rewrite of Magnuson will occur before the expiration of the 112th Congress.

House passage of a Magnuson reform bill is considered the highest goal for this year of industry leaders who organized the rally last March and have been pressing to write flexibility into Magnuson.

Read the full article on the Gloucester Times

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