Protecting Our Fisheries: Public Opposition to the 'Empty Oceans Act'

On June 1, the House Republican majority passed an unpopular, overreaching update to our nation's fisheries law that would allow severe overfishing and put our natural resources at risk. Much more information about why this bill is misguided - and why it's opposed by so many business, environmental and scientific leaders - is available on this page.

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) has come a long way since the law was first enacted in 1976 to secure viable fisheries and healthy oceans. Initially, provisions to “Americanize” our fisheries worked so well that by the late 1980s, some of our iconic fish species -- among them New England cod and Gulf of Mexico red snapper -- were severely overexploited. To address these problems, fishermen, environmental groups, congressional leaders, and others came together to improve the law, resulting in what is now one of the best fisheries management systems in the world.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act has expired. Congress is still funding its programs, but some of them need to be updated and the law needs to be reauthorized. That will only happen on a bipartisan basis. Unfortunately, Natural Resources Committee Republicans recently offered a highly partisan bill that would erase Congress' commitments to improve our oceans made during the 1996 and 2006 reauthorizations. The future of our oceans and fisheries is at stake.

Democrats on the Committee are committed to safeguarding the hard-won gains in U.S. fishery policy by learning from the past, listening to science, and putting resource sustainability first. We want to ensure that we maintain one of the world's best fishery management systems rather than trading it in for short-term profits.

On this page, you can learn more about the widespread public opposition to the Republicans' "Empty Oceans Act."

Ranking Member Grijalva's Statement Opposing the Republicans' Empty Oceans Act:

Text of the Republican Bill

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Report on the Success of the MSA

The More Than 170 Groups Opposing the Bill

White House Statement of Administration Policy Opposing the 'Empty Oceans Act'

News Coverage and Op-Eds on the Republicans' Empty Oceans Act

The Hill: Rising tide of America’s sustainable seafood
The Raleigh (N.C.) News and Observer: Don’t weaken America’s fisheries law
NRDC Switchboard: Another Effort to Gut Protections for Fisheries and Fishing Economies is Introduced in the House
SeafoodSource.com: Fishermen, NGOs oppose Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery grab
Huntsville (Ala.) Times: Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority is a fish grab waiting to happen
Northwest Florida Daily News: Red snapper proposal worries local anglers
Marine Fish Conservation Network: Ensuring Our Fishing Future
Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance: Commercial Fishermen Think MSA Bill Needs Work
Capt. Paul Eidman for the Asbury Park Press: Healthy Fisheries in Cross Hairs of Congress
Environmental Defense Fund: Congress Shouldn't Destabilize Our Fisheries
Pew Charitable Trusts: Congress Should Vote No on Bill That is Bad for Fish and Fisherment
Marine Fish Conservation Network: HR 1335 is a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
TalkingFish.org: House Magnuson Bill is The Destabilization of Our Nation’s Fisheries Act

Letters Opposing The Republicans' Empty Oceans Act: See below