February 6, 2009
Begich Amendment Fully Funds Magnuson-Stevens Act
Funding for needed research would boost fishing jobs, coastal economies
Sen. Mark Begich has introduced an amendment to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that would fully fund needed scientific research to rebuild the nation's fisheries, create fishing jobs and boost coastal economies. The amendment authorizes the $39.8 million for full implementation of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act that became law in December 2006.
"This amendment would provide an effective stimulus to our nation's fishing industry and boost the economy of coastal communities from Maine to Alaska," Sen. Begich said. "We need to fund the Magnuson-Stevens Act the way it was intended so our fisheries can be rebuilt and continue to be a source of sustainable, healthy seafood for our nation."
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act mandates steps be taken to end overfishing, reduce bycatch and improve science, among other provisions. The Act authorized a total of $338 million for FY 2007 with an increase of $10 million each fiscal year through FY 2013. But three years into the program, the National Marine Fisheries Service has only received $13.5 million toward implementation of the Act.
"America's fisheries contribute about $185 billion a year to state economies, but with the exception of Alaska, many of the nation's fish stocks are being overfished or depleted," Sen. Begich added. "Giving scientists the tools they need to rebuild and sustain the nation's fishery resources will create fishing and processing jobs and boast the economies in coastal communities."
According to statistics from the commerce committee, rebuilding the nation's fisheries would generate about $19 billion in sales and create 27,600 jobs in the harvest sector and 295,000 jobs in the overall economy. And while Alaska stocks, which comprise more than 55 percent of the nation's seafood landings, are not being overfished, there are still critical research needs for funding for bycatch monitoring, habitat assessment, ocean acidification and climate change.
Sen. Begich said his amendment would help fulfill the intent of Congress, the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and others who called for action to protect our oceans and the bounty they provide our country.
From a Senator Mark Begich press release
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