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Seabirds Will Benefit from New Bill to Update Federal Fisheries Law 

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WASHINGTON (July 3, 2024) – Today, Reps. Jared Huffman (D-CA), Ed Case (D-HI), Mary Peltola (D-AK), and James Moylan (R-Guam) introduced the Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act of 2024, a bill that reauthorizes the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), our nation’s primary federal fisheries law.  

“This bill introduces stronger protections for seabirds, which rely on healthy forage fish populations to survive,” said Bethany Carl Kraft, senior director of coastal and marine resilience at the National Audubon Society. “By factoring in the importance of forage fish to the ocean ecosystem, accounting for the impacts of climate change, and boosting essential fish habitat protections, this bill will strengthen the MSA for future generations.” 

Seabirds are in crisis. Threatened by oil spills, overfishing, habitat loss, and getting accidentally hooked on fishing gear, seabird populations around the world have declined by 70 percent since 1950. 

Seabirds rely on small, schooling fish known as forage fish to eat and to feed their chicks. Forage fish are not yet included in federal fisheries management, leaving them vulnerable to overfishing. Large fish, whales, and dolphins also feed on forage fish, making them essential for the commercial and recreational fishing industries as well as ecotourism. 

The Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act adds new provisions to the MSA, like accounting for the needs of seabirds and other predators when deciding how many forage fish can be caught. The bill also factors climate change into the fisheries management process, prevents seabirds and other wildlife from becoming hooked or entangled by fishing gear, and provides better protections for coastal habitats like seagrass beds that serve as nurseries and feeding grounds for both birds and fish. 

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About Audubon 

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive.  

 

Contact: Rachel Guillory, [email protected] 

 

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