Next week, the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 1335, a bill to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Fisheries issues often avoid the partisanship that otherwise rules (some would say cripples) Washington, but the Natural Resources Committee voted out H.R. 1335 strictly on party lines, and we expect the same outcome next week. That’s a shame, not only because of the breakdown of bipartisanship, but also because this is a bad bill.
Many have written about how much U.S. fisheries management has improved over the last several years. A recent report from NOAA Fisheries confirms that overfishing numbers hit all-time low in 2014, and that 37 species around the country have rebuilt since 2000. EDF is proud to have worked side-by-side with the fishing industry as these gains have been made – not only because they’re delivering a healthier marine environment but also because they’re supporting more profitable fishing businesses and more prosperous coastal communities. Unfortunately, H.R. 1335 would jeopardize this progress. It would also put unnecessary restrictions on the decisions of the regional fishery management councils, long the bedrock of fishery management in the United States and a means for local fishermen and others to participate directly in the rulemaking process. Read More
For Republicans, this week's midterm elections are cause for almost unreserved celebration. GOP candidates came close to sweeping the table in competitive House and Senate races around the country. Among the winners were Republican incumbents who have been constructive partners on fisheries issues and who were strongly supported by EDF Action, our sister organization: leaders like Senator Susan Collins in Maine and Congressman Chris Gibson in New York.
One House race, however, ran starkly against the trend. Two-term Republican incumbent Steve Southerland went down to a stunning defeat in the Florida panhandle's second congressional district. While many factors shaped the outcome—not least of which was a series of missteps on the campaign trail by an incumbent facing a smart and savvy challenger—make no mistake: Steve Southerland's outspoken anti-oceans agenda was on the ballot in Florida 2, and his defeat is a strong repudiation of the incumbent’s approach. It is yet another sign that ‘politics as usual’ in fisheries management is changing as fishermen and environmentalists work together to build healthier and more productive fisheries. Read More
Left to Right: EDF National Policy Specialist Melissa Carey, Former Senator Slade Gorton III, Former Representative Robin Tallon & Representative Chellie Pingree.
Photo Credit: David Hills
This week more than 100 fishermen, chefs and seafood distributors from around the country gathered in Washington, D.C. to talk with members of Congress about sustainable fishing and the need to keep catch shares in the tool box for our nation’s fisheries managers.
Recently, some in Congress have attempted to take catch shares off the table for fishery managers; limiting regional councils’ ability to make the best decision for their fishermen.
Catch shares help eliminate overfishing and restore fish stocks by dividing the total scientifically approved allowable catch among the fishermen and ending short seasons and derbies. Catch shares have been proven to recover fish populations, increase compliance with catch limits, reduce waste, stabilize revenue and increase business efficiency.
In more than 115 meetings, the fishermen and chefs stood together to make it clear that catch shares are working, they are making American fisheries more sustainable and they have had positive impacts not only on fishermen, but the seafood industry. Read More
In a disappointing move for the environment and the fishing industry, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a rider that would effectively ban new federal catch shares for fisheries in the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico.
Thanks in large part to catch shares, many fisheries in the United States have been turning a corner after decades of overfishing, massive job losses and closures. Fish caught in catch shares currently account for about half of the value and over three quarters of the volume of commercial landings in federal waters.
Some fisheries still under conventional management have not yet recovered, causing fishermen to suffer. This misguided rider would thwart progress and take a proven tool off the table for struggling fishermen and regional fishery management councils.
The rider was approved by a vote of 220-191, a smaller margin than when a similar rider was approved last year by a vote of 259-159. More members of Congress have come to oppose a ban because they want to make our oceans more sustainable for the fish and fishermen. Read More
Amanda Leland - Vice President, Oceans, EDF
Yesterday, the House and Senate passed a minibus appropriations bill that funds NOAA for the remainder of fiscal year 2012. Today the President signed the measure into law.
Notably, the bill does not include a misguided measure that would have robbed local fishermen in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico of one of the most effective fishery management options available: catch shares. The bill also includes $28 million in catch shares funding that will go to support existing catch share fishermen, including those in the Pacific, New England, and Gulf of Mexico.
Opponents had made a last-ditch effort to add this anti-environmental rider onto the must-pass funding bill, but Members of Congress who represent fishermen who operate under catch shares pushed back. That’s because they know that catch shares aren’t just good for stewarding our marine resources, they’re also good for fishermen.
Just this week, more than 100 New England fishermen sent a letter to Congress asking lawmakers to reject the “series of increasingly dangerous proposals that truly put the future of our businesses and fisheries at risk.” Read More
Thirteen groups signed letters today to both the Administration and Congressional Appropriators in response to the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The letters present fishery management and economic-related recommendations for broadening the scope of and increasing the amount of funding in the spending package proposed on May 12 by President Obama.
The groups' recommendations cover fishery management, including stock assessments, improvements to fishery data collection and monitoring, and cooperative research, so that fishery managers will have the most accurate and timely information to assess the impacts of the spill. The groups also recommend direct economic relief for recreational fishing businesses and other fishing-related businesses.
Sign-on letter participants:
- American Sportfishing Association
- Berkley Conservation Institute
- The Billfish Foundation
- Bonefish and Tarpon Trust
- Center for Coastal Conservation
- Coastal Conservation Association
- Environmental Defense Fund
- International Game Fish Association
- National Marine Manufacturers Association
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- The Ocean Conservancy
- Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
EDF made a complementary request to Congress and the President earlier this week for at least $100 million to help fishing communities recover from the spill.
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Posted in Gulf of Mexico Also tagged berkley Conservation Institute, Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, British Petroleum oil spill, Center for Coastal Conservation, Coastal Conservation Association, Environmental Defense Fund, International Game Fish Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oceana, President Obama, The Billfish Foundation, The Ocean Conservancy, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership