Major Milestones of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and America's Ocean Fish

Five years ago this month, President George W. Bush signed legislation revising and reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), requiring strong measures to end and prevent overfishing. Thanks to the foresight and leadership of President Bush and a bipartisan group of congressional leaders, science-based annual catch limits that protect ocean populations will be in place around the country early this year. This milestone in our nation’s fishing history will help keep marine species plentiful and fishermen on the water. Although we haven’t won the battle against overfishing yet, we have turned a corner and are beginning to see many of our important stocks rebound. Continued support for a strong MSA and its conservation measures will help prevent overfishing and ensure that we have healthy oceans and fresh local seafood for years to come.

1970-01-01 00:00:00

Creation of NOAA and NMFS

President Richard M. Nixon creates the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and its parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

1972-01-01 00:00:00

Bluefish Record

World record 31-lb., 12-oz. bluefish is caught off of Cape Hatteras, NC.

1975-01-01 00:00:00

Summer Flounder Record

World record 22-lb., 7-oz. summer flounder is caught off of Montauk, NY.

1976-01-01 00:00:00

Fishery Conservation and Management Act Passes

Congress passes the Fishery Conservation and Management Act to eliminate foreign fishing in U.S. waters and promote the domestic industry.

1988-01-01 00:00:00

Gulf Red Snapper in Trouble

A scientific assessment shows that the Gulf of Mexico red snapper population has declined to less than 5 percent of a healthy population.

1989-01-01 00:00:00

Summer Flounder in Trouble

The mid-Atlantic summer flounder breeding population has dropped by more than 70 percent from early 1980s levels because of overfishing.

1990-01-01 00:00:00

Bluefish in Trouble

Federal managers implement a plan to rebuild the valuable mid-Atlantic bluefish population, which has declined more than 60 percent since 1982.

1992-01-07 13:49:56

South Atlantic Red Snapper in Trouble

Managers introduce bag and size limit restrictions after the NMFS reports that the sexually mature South Atlantic red snapper population has declined more than 99 percent since 1955.

1994-01-01 00:00:00

All-Time High in Commercial Landings by Weight

U.S. annual commercial landings set a record at nearly 10.5 billion pounds, nearly twice the total from 1976.

1995-01-01 00:00:00


The Clinton administration makes the second federal disaster declaration in two years in response to the collapse of New England groundfish stocks and provides $55 million in emergency funding to the region's fishing communities.

1996-12-08 00:00:00

Congress Updates America's Fisheries Law

In response to the collapse of important fish populations, a bipartisan group of lawmakers under the leadership of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) passes the Sustainable Fisheries Act amendments to the now-named Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), shifting its focus from promoting fishing to conserving fish populations.

1997-01-01 00:00:00

First Report on Status of U.S. Fisheries

The first NMFS “Status of Fisheries of the United States” report to Congress finds that 86 species are overfished.

1998-01-01 00:00:00

Sushi Exploding in Popularity

The number of sushi bars has quintupled since 1988.

1998-12-07 13:49:56

Atlantic Sea Scallops Crash

Commercial landings of Atlantic sea scallops have declined to 12 million pounds, resulting in a loss in commercial value of nearly $74 million since 1990.

2000-01-01 00:00:00

The Movie "The Perfect Storm" is Released

2000-01-01 00:00:00


The West Coast groundfish fishery is formally declared a disaster because of severe declines.

2001-01-01 00:00:00

Atlantic Sea Scallops Are Declared Rebuilt

After closure of large areas under the MSA, Atlantic sea scallops rebound and are declared fully rebuilt.

2003-01-01 00:00:00

Recreational Fishing Participation Sets Record

U.S. saltwater recreational fishing participation reaches a high of more than 147 million angler trips.

2004-01-01 00:00:00

West Coast Groundfish Rebuilding Begins

Federal managers initiate rebuilding plans for nine species of West Coast groundfish (including lingcod) identified as overfished and initiate rebuilding plans.

2004-01-01 00:00:00

Record U.S. Seafood Consumption

Americans consume a record 16.6 pounds of seafood per person.

2005-01-01 00:00:00

The TV Series "Deadliest Catch" Premieres

2005-01-01 00:00:00

Pacific Lingcod Declared Rebuilt

Pacific lingcod is declared rebuilt several years ahead of schedule.

2006-01-01 00:00:00

Congress Reauthorizes the MSA to End Overfishing

Congress, led by the Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), again strengthens the MSA by requiring annual science-based catch limits and accountability measures by 2011 for all U.S. ocean fish populations.

2006-01-01 00:00:00

NMFS Measures Economic Value of Fishing

NMFS estimates that U.S. fisheries support 2 million jobs and generate nearly $185 billion in sales impacts.

2007-01-01 00:00:00

President Bush Signs MSA Reauthorization

President Bush signs legislation revising and reauthorizing the MSA on Jan. 12, enacting strong measures to end and prevent overfishing.

2007-01-01 00:00:00

McDonald's Begins using Alaska Pollock

McDonald's switches to using Alaska pollock as the source for its Filet-O-Fish.

2009-01-01 00:00:00

Gulf Red Snapper Rebuilding Progress

Scientists report that Gulf red snapper population levels have begun to rebound. Overfishing has ended after more than two decades, and managers raise the allowable catch for 2010 by nearly 2 million pounds.

2009-01-01 00:00:00

NMFS Invests in Southeast Fisheries Research

The NMFS commissions the research ship Pisces and dedicates a new lab in Mississippi to support fisheries research in the Southeast.

2009-01-01 00:00:00

Bluefish Declared Rebuilt

Mid-Atlantic bluefish are declared rebuilt because of effective conservation measures under the MSA.

2010-01-01 00:00:00

MSA Goal Achieved: Plans Set to End Overfishing

Federal managers meet the MSA’s deadline to establish catch limits and accountability measures for all U.S. fish populations subject to overfishing.

2010-01-01 00:00:00

New Management System Established in New England

In New England, the regional fisheries management council approves reforms for groundfish that require science-based enforceable catch limits.

2010-01-01 00:00:00

Atlantic Pollock Declared Rebuilt

Atlantic pollock is declared rebuilt because of the MSA. Managers incorporate the new data within six weeks and increase the quota by 600%.

2010-01-01 00:00:00

Record Value for Commercial Catch

U.S. annual commercial landings reach a record value of more than $4.5 billion.

2010-01-01 00:00:00

Deepwater Horizon Spill Sets Record

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest offshore spill in U.S. history, occurs in the Gulf of Mexico, causing the NMFS to temporarily close large areas of the gulf to fishing with unknown long-term impacts for the region’s fisheries.

2012-01-01 00:00:00


NOAA reports that in 2011 six U.S. ocean fish stocks were fully rebuilt to healthy levels and others continue their recovery. Overall, 27 U.S. ocean fish populations have been rebuilt to healthy levels since 2000.

2012-12-01 00:00:00


NOAA fisheries and the regional fishery management councils complete a task set out by Congress in 2006 to establish enforceable, science-based annual catch limits that end and prevent overfishing for all federally-managed ocean fish populations.

Major Milestones of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and America's Ocean Fish

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