US House bill would add tribal seats to North Pacific Fisheries Management Council

Two crew men shovel a deck full of fish on board a large boat
Crew members on the Commodore shovel pollock, the biggest harvest regulated by the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council. (Nathaniel Herz/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

A key Democrat in the U.S. House introduced a bill Monday to renew the Magnuson Stevens Act. Magnuson Stevens is the primary law that covers fishing in federal waters. Past bills have languished in Congress, in part because many in the industry were generally happy with the law as it is.

But Jared Huffman, D-Calif., included a few provisions in his bill that certain Alaska groups have been requesting for a long time. Huffman chairs the Oceans subcommittee of the House Resources Committee.

The bill emphasizes the need to consider the impacts of climate change on marine resources. It would, for the first time, recognize the importance of subsistence fishing. It would also put two tribal representatives on the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council — the committee responsible for fisheries in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.

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The bill won praise from environmental advocates and groups representing Alaska’s small-boat fishermen, as well as several tribal organizations.

Seafood Harvesters of America said it has a few issues it hopes to work out with the bill’s sponsors.

Alaska Republican Congressman Don Young also said he has concerns and recommendations to discuss.

Read the summary of the bill here and the full text of the bill here.

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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.

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