Reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Act

Managing US Fisheries in a Fluid Environment–

Salmon and salmon systems are at the forefront of Nautilus’ work in Alaska. Recently we attended the second in a set of hearings on the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), which is largely credited for maintaining sustainable fisheries in the US through its fundamentally science-based management structure.

Senator Dan Sullivan, Chair of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, hosted the August 23rd hearing on the Kenai Peninsula–home to one of the largest freshwater fishing areas in Alaska.

In the ten years since its last reauthorization, much has changed including funding realities and interest in greater equity among the diverse stakeholders under the Act’s influence.

Testifying were 14 national and local speakers, representing marine industry and recreational, commercial, and subsistence fishers. Among the first issues to be addressed was fleet consolidation. Sam Cotten, Commissioner of Alaska’s Department of Fish &Game, acknowledged that vibrant coastal communities are benefited by more fishermen and argued against further consolidation which could restrict competition in the processing industry and reduce access to fisheries by local fishers.

The role of adequate funding for scientific research and monitoring to avoid lowering the bar on sound verifiable science, a key component of successful fishery management, was addressed by multiple speakers.

Alaska-centric issues included maintaining the Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) program. Ben Stevens, Director of the Hunting & Fishing Task Force, Tanana Chiefs Conference stressed the importance of including subsistence and subsistence users in the Act, an important user group currently left out of the MSA. Ben Stevens is Salmon Fellow, a program of the Humanities Forum in partnership with Nautilus.. In addition to Ben, three other Salmon Fellows attended the meeting: Meagan Krupa, Charlie Wright, and Ricky Gease.

Sept. 5th 2017 is the deadline to submit a witness statement to the Subcommittee. Email submissions to:

Links to more information:
MSA Reauthorization webpage 
All witness statements from the Aug. 23 hearing