post release mortality

Action Needed: S. 1520 Needs a Stake in the Heart

Why S. 1520?

We can all probably agree that “recreational fishing needs a seat at the table” that is commensurate with our contribution to the economy, but S. 1520 as currently written is not the way to get there.

S. 1520 is a proposed amendment to the Magnuson Stevens Act (Wiki page) which was originally passed in 1976 to gain control over fish stocks in U.S. coastal waters. It has been amended over time. Congress added a provision in 1996 to reduce overfishing and cut wasted catch in commercial fishing operations. Again in 2006, Congress revisited MSA by adding more teeth to end overfishing in the commercial industry. It also included specific provisions to improve data collection through a newly created National Saltwater Angler Registry that would more accurately gauge sportfishing activity as well as the total recreational catch of sought-after species. Much progress has been made, but saltwater sportfishing remains underrepresented in terms of its economic contribution to the US economy and therefore the associated research funding and is we are still using allocation formulas that are intended for commercial fisheries. This needs to change.

S. 1520 Under the Hood

Unfortunately, S. 1520 throws the baby out with the bathwater! At its core, this bill removes the checks and balances and the required cooperation between states to manage a species for the benefit of all Americans versus individual state or economic interests. Specifically, it is the Annual Catch Limits and the three-year cycle that managers use to adjust to environmental concerns such as poor spawns and overharvest.  We must be able to measure the health of the stock before each season begins and be held to accountability measures that arise due to overfishing.

Recreational Fishing is Always Changing

Advances in technology and equipment allow recreational anglers a new level of access and harvest.  Given these advances, it is disappointing that those supporting S. 1520 are not addressing the recreational sector becoming more accountable but instead, looking for the opportunity for excess harvest.  We could also address ecosystem management for forage species, funding to address climate change as well as funding to provide for better science including repair and maintenance of NOAA research vessels.

Tweaks Needed

With every reauthorization of Magnuson- Stevens there have been changes to keep up with science and technology. While there is some of that in S. 1520 there are a number of bad precedents included. Most specifically is the concept of adding economic impacts as consideration criteria. We all know that nature/ fisheries can and do vary from year to year and sometimes wildly (tons of albies last year and probably less than “normal” this). The current review process requires conservation measures when populations fall below scientifically proven and mutually agreed upon thresholds. S. 1520 with its mandatory allocation reviews may well create an adversarial environment where sectors are forced to fight for a slice of the pie, rather than working together to make the pie bigger. 

We can do better

This bad bill needs a stake in the heart so we can then make the necessary changes to Magnusen Stevens and keep pace with the science and technology while maintaining the key conservation elements. We should be focusing on conserving the future, not figuring out ways to allow for greater short-term harvest. 

S. 1520 Latest Situation:

Senator Wicker (R-Mississippi), the sponsor of S.1520, is trying to pass the bill on the Senate floor this week while harmful provisions remain in the bill

S. 1520 What You Can Do:

If you believe the core tenets of Magnuson Stevens need to remain in place to ensure abundant fisheries. It would be very helpful if could call your Senate offices today and ask them to not pass S.1520 without the harmful provisions being removed. Senator Wicker could try to move this bill as soon as tomorrow, so your quick attention is most appreciated.

I’ve included some talking points below that can help you in your phone call, as well as the phone number and the name of the staffer you should speak within each of the Senate offices.

Thank you all for your support as we continue to fight for sustainable fishing. More details here

Talking Points

  • I am opposed to S.1520, and ask the Senator to oppose the bill from being passed without additional changes
  • Specifically, Section 101 of the bill mandates unnecessary and burdensome allocation reviews for specific regional councils.
  • These scheduled reviews would jam up the Council process and keep them from addressing other important fishermen needs.
  • The Magnuson-Stevens Act ensures abundant fish stocks for everyone. Let’s take the time to get it right.
  • There is no reason to move on legislation that contains harmful provisions during the final weeks of the Congressional session.

Senate Contact Information

Rhode Island

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse – Adena Leibman – 202-224-2921

Senator Jack Reed – Steven Keenan – 202-224-4642



Senator Ed Markey – Willy Goldsmith – 202-224-2742

Senator Elizabeth Warren – Bruno Freitas – 202-224-4543



Senator Richard Blumenthal – TJ Story – 202-224-2823

Senator Chris Murphy – Mike Bednarczyk – 202-224-4041


Thanks in advance for your consideration.

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