Sustainable Fisheries

Healthy Fish for a Healthy Ocean

Key Facts to Know About the Magnuson-Stevens Act

Thanks to the MSA, the United States stands as a global leader in fishery management

Enacted in 1976, the Magnuson-Stevens Act governs fishing in U.S. federal ocean waters (from 3-200 nautical miles offshore). Over time, the MSA has reshaped management of our nation’s fisheries and greatly curtailed harmful practices like overfishing that were having drastic impacts on our fish.

The MSA gives decision making power to eight regional fishery management councils when it comes to choices about how fisheries should be managed. The councils are made up of individuals representing diverse communities and sectors that are nominated by state governors. Each council is responsible for planning and recommending fishery management measures to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, who implements management.

Now, more than four decades since the MSA was first enacted, the transformation in American fisheries has been impressive. Today, the percentage of fish stocks that are overfished in our ocean waters is at an all-time low, but there is still work to be done to protect progress made and to help other stocks recover so that all fishermen have plentiful fish to catch.

Read ten key facts to know about this critically important piece of fisheries legislation. 

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