The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (now known as the Magnuson-Stevens Act, or MSA), was first adopted in 1976 in order to establish and manage domestic fisheries with a focus on efficiency and economic growth. The MSA has since been amended several times, with the most significant changes being made in the 1996 Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA).

The SFA functioned on the same management structure, but with an increased focus on sustainability. The SFA also adopted the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. In 2006, the MSA was reauthorized to strengthen the changes made in the 1996 Act. Goals of the 2006 reauthorization were to increase accountability, strengthen the role of science, emphasize market-based management, coordinate with national environmental laws and increase international cooperation.


The U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was enacted in 1972 in response to increasing concerns that some species of marine mammals were in danger of extinction or depletion as a result of human activities such as overhunting, overfishing and unscrupulous trade. The Act set forth a national policy to protect all marine mammal species and their habitats in an effort to maintain sustainable populations. The MMPA was the first legislation of U.S. Congress to mandate an ecosystem approach to natural resource management and conservation.