Why You Should Care About The “Empty Oceans Act”

You probably haven’t heard of this bill, but you should.

1. This is really happening.

Some experts estimate that 90% of all large predatory fish have been lost from the sea over the past 100 years.

(Source)

2. In the US, we have a solution, and it works.

It’s called the Magnuson Stevens Act. We first passed it in 1976 (that’s older than Star Wars), and Democrats and Republicans have consistently supported it.

The law protects ocean fish from overfishing (fishing faster than fish can reproduce) and supports sustainable fishing.

Every time it’s been reauthorized (last time was 2006), the law has gotten stronger. That’s because it works.

3. No, really, Congress has actually been doing something right.

This law has put us on the path to end overfishing in America.

4. Now, one congressman is set to turn the law back to the dark ages.

The bill is up for reauthorization again, and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings has drafted a version full of “attention grabbing measures” which would take fisheries back to the dark ages. (Source)

5. Now people are calling the law the “Empty Oceans Act.”

Doc Hasting’s version of the law would:

1. Put a halt on any rebuilding efforts for up to seven years. Once it finally starts, it could extend for decades with no deadline for completion. Remember Boston’s Big Dig? It’d be way way worse.

2. Allow the councils that manage fisheries to outright ignore recommendations from their own science advisors.

3. Outsource the Endangered Species Act, letting companies have control over the recovery of endangered ocean wildlife, like sea turtles. No sir, no conflict of interest there.

4. Exempt fisheries management from meaningful environmental review. Because fish don’t come from the environment, of course. They come from magical fish factories.

5. Undercut the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, and prohibit data (that taxpayers paid for!) from being used for ocean planning efforts. That’s basically like trying to buy a car by yelling “car!” at Google.

(Source 1, Source 2)

6. Say goodbye to fish and chips.

Overfishing could mean the end of some of our favorite foods, and can also disastrously mess up ocean ecosystems.

Some of the most familiar seafoods, like spicy tuna rolls and red snapper are already overfished and might disappear altogether if we roll back our conservation laws.

7. Say something.

The great thing about our democracy is that we get to say something.

Ocean Conservancy has a petition you can sign.

So does Oceana.

And Greenpeace too.

Or you can just tweet at @DocHastings and @NatResources and tell them what you think.

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