Maine Voices: New Bill Meets Fishermen’s Needs In Response To Climate Impacts


I am a fly fisherman, guide and lodge owner who experience climate change every day through my work on the water. My businesses are located in Maine and the Bahamas, where both sites are changing rapidly due to climate change. The impacts of rising sea levels, warming water and shifting fish stocks are more evident each year.

The Atlantic menhaden are unloaded at Coastal Bait on the Portland waterfront in 2016. Among the provisions of a proposed update to the Magnuson-Stevens Act is a requirement that all fisheries management plans protect forage fish such as menhaden. Brianna Soukup / Staff Photographer

We need to protect our various fishing habitats, our estuaries and our fisheries, to ensure that our great-grandchildren and their children can fish in the future.

The impacts of climate change have a profound impact on the shoreline, on fish habitat, and on the fish we catch, release and / or eat.

The Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act is the country’s first marine fisheries law. After a year-long listening tour, a bill to improve the Magnuson-Stevens Act was introduced by Representatives Jared Huffman, D-Calif., And Ed Case, D-Hawaii. The Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act contains the climate-friendly provisions we need to protect our fisheries.

As an active angler, I would like to speak in favor of this legislation as it offers a bold and comprehensive update of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, re-commits to sustainable management and prepares our fisheries for the impacts of climate change. .

The Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act proposals would strengthen our ocean’s long-term ability to provide food and support thriving businesses, recreation, culture and coastal communities. The main provisions of the bill include:

• Prepare fishing for climate change. The bill incorporates climate considerations throughout the management process, accelerates the production of scientific and climate relevant data, and creates mechanisms to produce climate-appropriate management decisions to meet changing stock challenges.

The waters of the Gulf of Maine warm the world’s oceans. Michael Carlowicz of NASA’s Earth Observatory wrote about this in an article titled “Aqueous Heat Wave Bakes the Gulf of Maine,” available at

The reality of these warming waters means a shift in fish stocks. For example, seeing Atlantic skipjack in our waters is not uncommon now, and black bass continue to march north into the Gulf of Maine. Striped bass are staying longer in the season due to warming northern waters, not to mention the fact that lobsters have been moving north for decades.

• Replenish fish stocks. Plans to restore fish populations to healthy levels are more important than ever in light of the impacts of climate change. We need to both address climate impacts in the Magnuson-Stevens Act and strengthen stock recovery in law. We need to ensure that efforts to bring fisheries back to sustainable levels are effective and stay on track, as well as strengthen the accountability of the system when such efforts fail while preventing stocks from becoming overfished in the first place. In our region, cod is an example of a stock that has struggled to rebuild under the current plan.

• Protect forage fish. The bill requires consideration of the needs of predators in existing fisheries management plans, such as the relationship between the Atlantic menhaden as a forage fish for whales, tuna, bluefish, striped bass, osprey and other species. Other examples in our region include how an abundance of forage fish such as peanut bunker (immature atlantic menhaden), squid, bay anchovies and sand lance create an exceptional striped bass and blue fish bite in our bays, estuaries and ocean.

• Improved data collection. The legislation requires the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to establish guidelines for improving recreational catch data and integrating data from multiple sources and encourages research on innovation, such as electronic recording of catch data and recreational effort, as well as updating data management systems to improve the collection, receipt, storage and access of data from federal and non-federal sources.

I urge fishermen and congressmen in Maine to support Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act. It meets the needs of fishermen today and, more importantly, in the future, as fisheries must change in response to climate impacts.

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