Proposed Changes To US Fishing Laws Spark Conservation Row

A proposed update to federal fishing laws is sparking a debate among fishermen and conservationists about whether the changes will undo years of work to rebuild key fish populations.

Alaska Republican Don Young is proposing several changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act that he says will give fishery managers more flexibility in rebuilding fish stocks. But some fishermen and environmentalists say Young’s proposal creates dangerous exemptions from catch limits that are designed to prevent overfishing.

Young is defending his bill. He says the changes allow fishery managers to address the economic needs of fishermen.

The changes are the subject of a House Committee on Natural Resources meeting on Thursday. The bill, which could be amended during the meeting, does not yet have a companion in the Senate.