by relevant international principles and agreements. The act's dominant purposes provide the reference points by which most, if not all, of the issues concerning IFQs—if, when, where, and how they should be used—can be answered. Since the act will undoubtedly be amended repeatedly in the future, however, recommendations about management should not be limited to its present content.

Over the course of the Magnuson-Stevens Act's history, its dominant purpose and policy goals have changed. The history of these changes is recounted briefly in Chapter 1. Also, the legal responsibilities of the United States as a coastal nation with respect to the biological resources within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) have been clarified recently through the articulation of international norms and management criteria (Rieser, 1997a). The dominant purposes of U.S. fisheries law and policy may be gleaned from these obligations and from the far-reaching changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act brought about by the 1996 amendments. The salient features of the 1996 amendments are the following:

  1. The express duty to end overfishing and to rebuild overfished stocks (Secs. 303[a][10], 304[e]);
  2. A new ecological imperative, with its emphasis on protecting essential fish habitat and reducing bycatch (Secs. 301[a][7], 305[b]);
  3. The mandate to consider fishing communities (Secs. 301[a][8], 303[a][9]);
  4. A concern with the fair and equitable allocation and distribution of fishing quotas (Secs. 303[d][5][C]); and
  5. The cautious approach to market mechanisms evidenced by the moratorium on development and implementation of new IFQ programs (Sec. 303[d]).

In these provisions, the act supports the notion that fish stocks are public resources to be conserved for future generations and for their ecological importance, and managed carefully for the benefit of local communities and the diverse array of citizens who derive benefit from them. From these features, the first principles of U.S. fisheries law appear to be as follows:

  1. Conservation and sustainability of biological resources have a high priority.
  2. Management programs must take careful account of the social context of fisheries, especially the role of communities and the importance of fishing as both a tradition and a profession.
  3. When harvests take place, they should maximize the net benefits (benefits minus cost) that society receives from their use.
  4. Management programs must consider equity, fairness, and the distribution of the benefits derived from marine resources.

Other principles stem from the public trust nature of fishery resources. For example, the public trust doctrine prohibits the permanent alienation of use rights

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement