Oceana, APA fight for fisheries funding
With drastic funding cuts threatening the effectiveness of U.S. fisheries management programs, the At-Sea Processors Association (APA) and the environmental NGO Oceana are working together to petition for more funding for agencies like the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
“APA and Oceana are both stakeholders engaged in sustainable fisheries management in the North Pacific groundfish fisheries. Sometimes we agree on policy initiatives, and sometimes not. But we do have an ongoing dialogue on issues,” said Jim Gilmore, director of public affairs for the APA, which is based in Seattle and represents six companies that own and operate 16 catcher/processor vessels participating mainly in the Alaska pollock and West Coast Pacific whiting fisheries.
“In this instance, while discussing regional fisheries issues, we compared notes and found common ground on the national policy questions of Congress providing adequate funding for NMFS’ core science programs,” he explained.
Corry Westbrook, federal policy director for Washington, D.C.-based Oceana, said the Obama administration is not requesting enough funding to ensure adequate implementation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and overall protection of the United States’ marine resources. Oceana and the APA have identified three key areas where they feel funding needs to be increased — fish stock assessments, fisheries monitoring and enforcement, and funding regional councils and commissions.
“Funding cuts hurt the industry because they’re not going to be able to fill their obligations as readily or accurately,” said Westbrook. “At-Sea Processors and Oceana want to make sure fisheries populations are managed in a sustainable way. We have different reasons for wanting it, but we want the same thing. If funding for fisheries keeps decreasing, it’s going to be more and more detrimental to the fisheries.”
Westbrook said both the House and Senate bills on the proposed fiscal 2013 budget are unsatisfactory, and Oceana has sent a letter to Senate appropriators voicing the organization’s concerns.
“I’m not entirely sure if our letter is going to be able to influence funding levels this year, but we’re setting the stage for next year to hopefully get increases,” said Westbrook.