Can Congress Deliver Happy Days for Fish, Fishermen?

President Gerald Ford relaxes on a Caribbean deep-sea fishing trip in 1972. Four years later, he signed into law the landmark fishery legislation that is now known as the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

To give you a break from the onslaught of 2015 year-in-review stories, let’s test your memory of a bygone era. Can you pinpoint the year that:

  • “Happy Days” was the most popular television show?
  • A gallon of gas cost 59 cents?
  • “Rocky” won the Oscar for best film?
  • The U.S. Navy tested the Tomahawk cruise missile?
  • Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak formed Apple Computer?

The year? 1976.

It was a particularly memorable year for me, because I was settling into a stint with the Coast Guard. Yet I was unaware that at the same time, Congress was crafting a bill that would come to dominate my career.

The law, which later was named the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in honor of Senators Warren Magnuson (D-WA) and Ted Stevens (R-AK), represented a dramatic leap in management of ocean fish resources in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which encompasses 3.4 million square miles of sea just off our coastline.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act, the nation’s overarching law on marine fisheries management, affects commercial and recreational fishermen and every player in the seafood supply chain.

President Gerald R. Ford signed the act into law on April 13, 1976. In the runup to the 40th anniversary, we at The Pew Charitable Trusts are both commemorating the progress that the legislation has driven and calling on Congress, as it renews the law, to strengthen it to meet today’s fish management challenges.

President Gerald Ford relaxes on a Caribbean deep-sea fishing trip in 1972. Four years later, he signed into law the landmark fishery legislation that is now known as the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

We’ve got some great fish tales in our weekly online series, which has been running in the lead-up to April. You can read about the fascinating fish, people, technology, and environmental issues —> Read More

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