Fishermen call for defense of science-based fishery management
Fishermen from across the United States have set up shop in Washington this week for Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2018, and the message they’re sending to lawmakers is: Defend science-based fishery management policies.
Ocean Week is an annual conference where stakeholders meet in the nation’s capital to discuss policy issues that affect the oceans and Great Lakes. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation organizes the event and brings together stakeholders for high level discussions on these issues.
This year’s conference comes the Magnuson-Stevens act comes up for reauthorization. Some lawmakers have taken the opportunity to propose changes to fishery management policies, such as allowing states to have more flexibility and say in managing their plans.
However, one group of commercial fishermen are hoping that federal officials stick to science-based management plans. They note NOAA Fisheries’ most recent report to Congress that indicates the number of stocks on the overfished list is at 35, an all-time low. In addition, 44 stocks have been rebuilt since 2000.
“This latest report reaffirms that the Magnuson-Stevens Act is working,” said John Pappalardo, FCC President and CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “But there is much work to do, and reversing course would be a grave mistake. Congress must continue to invest in fisheries science to ensure we have the data on which to base important management decisions and resist shortsighted efforts to undermine key Magnuson-Stevens Act accountability provisions.”
Among the meetings that took place on Wednesday 6 June was a roundtable meeting held by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, with seafood industry leaders.
Bishop said he understands the need for “rational” regulations that promote sustainable economic growth.
John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute, said he would like to see more transparency from NOAA Fisheries.
“NOAA’s regulation of seafood sets a global standard for success,” he said. “But it needs to do a better job of explaining that … Communicating about its successes raises NOAA’s profile, while a sea of third-party certifiers jockey for recognition in the commercial landscape. Fisheries managed by NOAA shouldn’t need a third party to come in and certify that they’re doing a good job. We spend more than (USD) 800 million taxpayer dollars (EUR 676.4 million) on fisheries management annually, the least NOAA can do is talk about it.”