WASHINGTON, D.C. - The chairman of the New England Fishery Management Council is appealing to the U.S. Senate to allow for more flexibility under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

The act serves as the governing standard for fisheries across the country.

Dr. John Quinn says annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs) like at-sea monitors, while maintaining the integrity of fish stocks, can be of great harm to small fishing companies. "Councils need to be able to consider a wide variety of management tools without burdensome requirements," said Quinn. "ACLs and AMs may not be the best tools for managing all fisheries."

Quinn says he'd like to see regional fisheries granted to power to authorize alternative control mechanism or utilize ecosystem-based fishery managament tactics.

Dr. Quinn also suggested a need to alter the timeline to rebuild fish stocks. Stocks are usually scheduled to be built up within a ten-year period, with harsher restrictions on fishermen in order to increase the population of a certain species. Dr. Quinn says it's the equivalent of asking every first time home owner to agree to a ten-year mortgage.

"While that would work for some, it would not work for all. I want to make it clear that we do not seek eliminating rebuilding requirements, but we believe that targeted changes to the law would allow for betterment of rebuilding plans."

Dr. Quinn said while siginificant progress has been made in rebuilding stocks over the last 20 years, it has come at the cost of the socioeconomic needs of fishermen.

Quinn's testimony was part of the Senate's Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard's first hearing on the re-authorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which takes place about every ten years.

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