FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 17, 2011
SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND: NOAA CATCH SHARE POLICY COULD HURT STRUGGLING LONG ISLAND FISHERMEN; SENATORS URGE AGENCY TO PROMOTE TRIED AND TRUE FISHERY MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), and Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY), today called on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to promote proven fishery management tools in the wake of their decision to encourage flawed catch share programs that could hurt fishermen on Long Island and across the country. In a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Schumer and Gillibrand, joined by U.S. Senators Kay Hagan, Richard Burr (R-NC),and Scott Brown (R-MA), and Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Mike McIntyre (D-NC), expressed their concern that NOAA has already invested $37 million and has requested an additional $17 million for a total of $54 million to encourage the adoption of catch share programs that, if adopted in New York, could severely limit Long Island’s commercial fishing industry and further endanger the already-struggling fishing industry. Instead, Schumer and Gillibrand urged NOAA to fund research to better assess the stocks of the nation’s fisheries, as required by law.
The Honorable Gary Locke
U.S. Department of Commerce
Fourteenth Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Dear Secretary Locke:
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. We write to express our concern that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) catch share 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.
We are specifically concerned that NOAA has committed $36.6 million to encourage the adoption of catch share programs when it has not committed sufficient funds to adequately assess the stocks of our nation’s fisheries. The Magnuson-Stevens Act expressly calls on NOAA to assess the health of fishing stocks, but NOAA has not committed significant funding to fulfill this requirement. NOAA should first commit funding to carry out this important duty before providing funding for a new fishery-management tool that requires – and currently does not have – broad-based support from the fishing industry.
We believe the adoption of a catch share program could further reduce the ability of fishermen to generate revenue because success in fishing has traditionally depended upon the ability to choose among various fisheries as conditions warrant. Such flexibility may be lost if a significant number of fisheries are regulated by catch share programs.
Finally, we believe catch share programs could deter future generations’ interest in becoming fishermen. Catch share programs increase capital expenditures and raise the barriers of entering the business, which discourage young people from considering a career in the fishing industry.
The recreational and commercial fishing industries generate billions of dollars each year and are central to America’s history and culture. Honest fishermen work very hard to make a living in our states every day. For them and for our economy, we must institute fishery management tools that enhance the industry’s vitality, not diminish it. We hope that you carefully consider our concerns and, when appropriate, encourage the use of proven fishery management tools.
Kay Hagan Charles Schumer
United States Senator, North Carolina United States Senator, New York