A starting point for effective change in marine conservation is strengthening the laws and policies that govern our use of ocean resources.
The authority for conserving fisheries in United States waters arises from several statutes.
The most important of these is the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which establishes a federal fishery conservation zone around the U.S. But because federal jurisdiction begins 3 miles from the coastline and ends 200 miles offshore, state laws and international treaties that effect fishing inside and beyond our waters are important to achieving comprehensive conservation.
Wild Oceans strives to make conservation the number one priority of fisheries management, by strengthening the Magnuson Act (and other laws) with corrective amendments as well as by watch-dogging implementation; by influencing the evolution of fishery policies and guidelines; and by participating in the development of key, precedent-setting fishery management plans.
We founded and played a leadership role in the Marine Fish Conservation Network, an alliance of over 100 fishing and conservation groups responsible for passage of the Sustainable Fisheries Act in 1996 and the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act of 2006. Strict anti-overfishing and pro-rebuilding requirements in these laws are credited with setting many of our most depleted fisheries are on the road to recovery.
In addition, we made it a national requirement to minimize by-catch (the incidental capture of non-target fish and other wildlife in fishing operations) and to identify essential fish habitat for all managed fish species. We changed the law to separate science-based conservation decisions from economically-driven allocation decisions. And we revised federal guidelines to recommend taking predator-prey interactions into account when setting annual catch limits for prey fish, in order to maintain adequate forage for the ecosystem.
Wild Oceans staff and board members participate as policy advisors to numerous state, federal and international bodies, including the federal Regional Fishery Management Councils, the interstate Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.