U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-N.C.) today led a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers in urging the Department of Commerce to consider alternatives to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Catch Share Program.
In a letter to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, the members of Congress said that the policy endangers the fishing industry and asked him to consider alternative fishery management techniques.
Hagan sent the letter along with Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Scott Brown (R-Mass.), and Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), and Mike McIntyre (D-N.C..
The full letter can be read here.
“The fishing industry is a crucial part of our nation’s economy, but in these tough economic times, too many fishermen are struggling to provide for themselves, their families, and their communities,” the lawmakers wrote. “We write to express our concern that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) catch shares policy will further endanger the economic vitality of the already-struggling fishing industry and will not end overfishing, and to urge NOAA to consider other well-established fishery management techniques.”
NOAA has requested $54 million to encourage the adoption of catch-share programs but has not committed the necessary funds to assessing fishery stocks, as it is required to do under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The members said in their letter that NOAA must do this assessment before even considering a new fishery management tool that does not have broad-based support from the fishing industry.
“Honest fishermen work very hard to make a living in our states every day,” the members of Congress wrote. “For them and for our economy, we must institute fishery management tools that enhance the industry’s vitality, not diminish it.”