Schwaab, the new chief at National Marine Fisheries Service, is
stepping into the job at a time when frustration with federal fisheries
policy is bubbling over in coastal towns from Maine to Alaska.
Eric Schwaab is the new chief at National Marine Fisheries
was sworn in as the assistant administrator for fisheries in the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Feb. 16, only
a little more than one week before commercial and recreational
fishermen stage a protest rally in Washington, D.C. That
scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 24, at the U.S. Capitol.
are asking Congress to revisit the Magnuson Stevens Fishery
Conservation and Management Act, the framework for federal fisheries
management. The law sets out a time schedule for rebuilding
stocks that is rigid enough that regulators must ban fishing for some
species altogether, resulting in what fishermen describe as irreparable
damage to coastal economies and communities.
hope the D.C. rally galvanizes Congressional support for legislation
amending Magnuson so that rebuilding schedules can be extended and
negative economic impacts lessened.
will need to restore confidence in the National Marine Fisheries
(NMFS) law enforcement branch. Congress has scheduled
into failings and abuses within the branch that were identified in an
investigation by the Inspector General at the U.S. Commerce Department.
should probably anticipate growing opposition in small communities to
catch-share programs as regulators move ahead with market-based
management in more fisheries. In catch-share programs, the
government allocates harvest shares, or individual fishing quotas, to
fishermen based on their past landings, and then lets the market for
buying and leasing shares sort out which fishermen will be able to fish.
boat fleets and small fishing villages worry that market-based
management would result in U.S. fisheries going the way of
agri-business and question the Obama administration’s commitment
to protecting Main Street jobs and economies.
of those places is Hatteras Island, a place Schwaab is familiar with
from summer vacations that have included charter-boat fishing trips.
said the starting point for healing the rupture between the federal
agency and the people it serves is improving communication.
priority will be improving outreach with recreational and commercial
fishermen all around the country,” he said during a
teleconference with reporters shortly after his swearing-in ceremony.
expressed confidence that the deep distrust of the agency would
diminish as the data and the science used by managers to craft
management plans and fishing regulations improved.
noted that accurate and timely data comes from a variety of sources,
including cooperative research where scientists and fishermen team up
together to collect biological data or test modifications to fishing
federal and state budget proposals jeopardize that type of research.
The NOAA budget for Fiscal Year 2011 reduces funding for cooperative
research by $6 million, about half of last year’s budget, and
rolls that money into the agency’s catch-share implementation
research in North Carolina is also facing an uncertain
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources has
proposed eliminating funds for the state Fishery Resource Grant program
for the upcoming fiscal year. The agency would use the
to offset budget reductions at the Division of Marine Fisheries and to
implement a sea turtle observer program.
January, 2008 when NMFS chief Bill Hogarth resigned, Jim Balsiger,
Alaska regional NOAA fisheries administrator, has lead NMFS.
observers last summer expected NOAA head Jane Lubchenco to appoint
either University of Massachusetts marine science professor Brian
Rothschild or legislative assistant Arne Fuglvog from Alaska to the
career has been centered at the Maryland Department of Natural
Resources in various positions. Most recently he was deputy
secretary of the department.