I would like to thank Senators Warren Magnuson of Washington and Ted Stevens of Alaska for their work in creating the Essential Fisheries in our coastal waters – I’m pretty sure that’s why I was able to see two of the largest creatures that ever lived on earth feeding in the waters near Catalina Island last Saturday.
On October 11, 1996, Congress passed the Sustainable Fisheries Act (Public Law 104-297) which amended the habitat provisions of the Magnuson Act. The re-named Magnuson-Stevens Act (Act) calls for direct action to stop or reverse the continued loss of fish habitats. Toward this end, Congress mandated the identification of habitats essential to managed species and measures to conserve and enhance this habitat. The Act requires cooperation among the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the Fishery Management Councils, and Federal agencies to protect, conserve, and enhance “essential fish habitat”. Congress defined essential fish habitat for federally managed fish species as “those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity.”
I am a big fan of the federal government and of those men and women of foresight who participate in it. I love those old boys who could see which way the wind was blowing and thought it was their job to do something about it.
Pew Research has a good take on it: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/imported-old/other-resources/2011/04/07/success-story-rebuilding-americas-fisheries-with-one-single-act
Warren Magnuson died in 1989 and Ted Stevens in 2010, but that happily feeding blue is a legacy to be proud of.