House Republicans Vote To Gut Lauded Law That Saved America’s Fisheries

House Republicans on Wednesday voted to weaken a much-praised 1976 law that helped revive the commercial fishing industry in the United States and bring its fisheries back from the brink of collapse.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), would remove annual catch limits on numerous fish species and roll back requirements for recovering overfished stocks. Many scientists, fishers and ocean advocacy groups say that will likely result in overfishing.

The legislation passed the House in a 222-193 vote, mostly along party lines. The measure must still be approved by the Senate, although it’s unclear if or when that chamber will take up the bill.

In comments on the House floor before the vote, Young said his measure will strengthen the existing law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, by giving regional fishery councils “the proper tools and flexibility needed to effectively manage their fisheries.” The goal, he said, is to “ensure a proper balance between the biological needs of fish stocks and the economic needs of fishermen and coastal communities.”

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