Gulf chefs unite to condemn potential rollback of federal fisheries law

Endangered Florida Panther Kitten, image courtesy of the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute via Flickr.com

A coalition of Gulf Coast chefs and restaurant owners is calling on lawmakers to vote against a federal fisheries bill that the House is currently considering.HR 200 (or "Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act"�), is the reauthorization bill for the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the law passed in 1976 that governs federal fisheries. It was marked up by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources in December, which means the bill will likely be brought to the House floor and voted on during the current legislative session.�Prominent chefs have joined together to send a letter to Congress urging them to defeat what they see as a threat to a Gulf resource that has been slow to rebound since nearly collapsing in the 1980s.�"HR 200 is a direct attack on successful and bipartisan federal fishing management that has been working to rebuild collapsed fish stocks for decades now,"� said Dana Honn, owner of Cafe Carmo in New Orleans. "As a chef, recreational fisher, and eater, I urge Congress to vote against HR 200 and any other legislation that would undermine the progress we have worked so hard to achieve."�The MSA has successfully rebuilt 43 fish stocks through a federally managed system based upon annual catch limits, but HR 200 would weaken the science-based provisions of the law.�As the letter states, "Thanks to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the United States boasts one of the world's best regulatory systems to govern its marine fisheries. Its regional council system, strong national standards, and mandate to use the best available science have led to safeguarding and restoring the health of our ocean ecosystems -- which, in turn, have provided us with a sustainable source of seafood."�Though the MSA has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, HR 200 passed through committee along partisan lines.�The signatories on the letter include James Beard award nominees/winners Ryan Prewitt, Stephen Stryjewski, Justin Devillier, Nina Compton, Michael Stoltzfus, Kristen Essig, Andy Ticer, and Michael Hudman.A link to the letter can be found here.��Go to http://healthygulf.org/fish to join the chefs.�

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