Senate looms as big test for changes to US fishing laws

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Fishermen and environmentalists are at odds over a suite of changes to American fishing laws that was approved by the House of Representatives, and the proposal faces a new hurdle in the Senate.

The House passed changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, a 42-year-old set of rules designed to protect American fisheries from overharvest. Environmental groups have derided the changes as antithetical to the purpose of the act, which many credit with saving American fish stocks.

But supporters and some fishing groups say the changes merely provide managers with flexibility and refocus the act on sound science.

The big question is whether a reauthorization bill will pass the Senate before midterm elections. No bill has been proposed yet. Elections could bring changes that make it more difficult for changes to pass.