“The slightest thing -- removing an apostrophe -- it could ruin everything we’ve built in the last 40 years.”
Chef Steve has returned from a whirlwind trip to Capitol Hill, where he had the honor of joining the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Blue Ribbon Task Force in defending the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) from potentially catastrophic changes.
Established in 1976, the MSA is the principal law governing United States fisheries. The Act protects our oceans from overfishing and ensures we don’t deplete our natural resources.
“It’s how we became the world leader in sustainable fisheries,” said Chef Steve. “We created a model of science-based management. There’s no arguing with it.”
Congress is considering two major bills that would drastically change the MSA -- HR 200 and HR 2023. HR 200 would reduce rebuilding requirements, exempt hundreds of species from annual catch limits and undercut the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. HR 2023 aims to modernize recreational fishery management, which would open up the waters to automated fishing methods, including FADs, fish attracting devices.
“Basically, it would allow people to fish with robotic equipment that can’t make human decisions.”
With so much at stake, the Blue Ribbon Task Force made a much needed trip to Capitol Hill to have their voices heard.
“90% of the fish consumed in the United States is imported from overseas. People are not paying attention. And it’s time that they do.”
There’s a larger issue that many people don’t see. If the MSA is weakened, the hospitality industry will fail, chefs will fail, and the United States will have to import even more seafood.
“This isn’t just about fishing equipment. It’s about human rights; it’s about illegal pollution…” said Chef Steve. “If these changes to the MSA are approved, we’ll go back to overfishing. Our population will deplete. Future generations may never get to experience the joys of fishing.”
Even big corporations like WalMart, Target and Compass Group have switched to sustainable US fisheries. Changes to the MSA could mean major business failure.
Which is why this trip was so important.
“Overall, the trip was incredibly productive and successful. The impact was amazing. You could see it in their eyes.”
Chef Steve’s last meeting was especially impactful.
Jeffrey Lewis, a senior counsel to the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, was all ears. With red snapper issues currently plaguing the fishing world, Steve was able to have a meaningful conversation with someone who really gets it -- and he even had the chance to pitch a powerful idea. But more on that later…
Overall, it was an amazing trip to Washington, D.C.
“The reception was awesome. Everyone was so engaged -- even the staffers. They all want to come to our restaurants now. And I think they will.”