Commercial fishing interests support Barry Myers to lead NOAA

A consortium of commercial fishermen is calling on the U.S. Senate to confirm President Donald Trump’s pick to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The National Coalition for Fishing Communities wrote the letter in support of Barry Myers to U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota), Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee chairman, and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida), the committee’s ranking minority member. The group represents 71 commercial fishing companies and organizations as well as 31 vessels.

Trump announced his selection of Myers back in October. Myers’ history differs from most who have been picked to head the organization in the past – whereas most have been scientists, Myers, the CEO of weather prediction service AccuWeather, comes from a business background.

As NOAA Administrator, Myers – if approved – would oversee the organization that has oversight of fishery management.

While some critics have cited Myers work at AccuWeather as a possible disqualifier, the U.S. commercial fishing interests see it as a strength.

“While science remains one of the most vital elements of NOAA, new leadership with strong proven managerial experience is needed to right the ship after years of mismanagement,” the fishermen wrote.

Among the issues the group believes need to be fixed include improving data accuracy in fisheries management and abuses of power within the agency’s law enforcement division that has resulted in levied fines being returned. 

The Senate’s Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held its confirmation hearing for Myers on 29 November, two days after the coalition sent its letter to Thune and Nelson. However, the panel has not yet voted to recommend his confirmation.

After the hearing, Myers submitted answers to questions offered by Thune. In his remarks, Myers noted concerns he has about the poaching of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. He also noted that reducing the country’s seafood trade deficit would become a priority.

“I am interested in finding ways to help our commercial fisheries maximize their sustainable harvests,” Myers responded. “I share thecCommittee’s interest in helping to put fishing businesses on a level playing field with other businesses getting federal loans and I will work expeditiously to understand the delay and work to provide the technical drafting guidance you seek.”


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