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September 03, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama on Marine Fisheries

An Exclusive Sport Fishing Interview

Sport Fishing: Legislation was introduced into Congress last year (Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2008, HR-5425) that would replace current federal mandates to rebuild fish stocks within specific (generally 10-year) periods by giving fishery managers the "flexibility" to extend rebuilding   plans, thereby easing some strict fishing regulations that may require closed seasons and/or tighter catch limits. What position would an Obama administration take on this issue and why?

Obama: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires federal fishery managers to end overfishing and rebuild fish stocks as soon as possible, considering broad societal benefits - to ecosystems, communities and the nation. These goals were embraced by the industry, scientists and conservation groups in both 1996 and 2006, and we have made much progress. However, many fisheries have not benefited from the promise of the Magnuson Act, often because fishery-management plans delayed hard choices, making timely achievement of rebuilding goals challenging. The recreational industry has been supportive of keeping the Act's conservation ethic in place, but in some fisheries, conservation goals have conflicted with community goals and economic sustainability needs. There is no long-term economic or conservation benefit to delaying actions to end overfishing and rebuild stocks, and any management actions we take to get struggling fisheries transitioned to sustainable status cannot have us going backward. The facts will be different in many fisheries, but, assuming a strongly recovering fishery and a robust management plan, I would work with managers, scientists, conservation groups, the industry and Congress to ensure any management and approach taken adheres strongly to these fundamental conservation goals but also embraces innovative means of preventing or mitigating unduly harsh economic consequences.