PALLONE USES CONGRESSIONAL HEARING TO ADDRESS ANGLERS' CONCERNS WITH OCEANS-21 LEGISLATION
During a hearing today of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) questioned federal officials and other members of Congress about the impacts of the proposed OCEANS-21 bill on recreational anglers and fisheries management.
Pallone raised concerns he has heard from recreational fishermen in New Jersey about the OCEANS-21 bill, which proposes major changes in the federal government's regulation of the oceans. He asked about the possibility that the bill could impact quotas for popular fish stocks.
"We must consider whether OCEANS-21 will have unintended consequences for fisheries management," Pallone said. "Those of us who worked on last year's reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act know how tricky those issues are, and we need to proceed with the utmost care in ensuring that we achieve the goal of protecting our oceans without sacrificing our constituents' ability to fish."
Pallone asked questions of Jack Dunnigan, Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Dunnigan suggested that the OCEANS-21 bill could have impacts on fisheries management.
"What would the practical ramifications of this bill be for fisheries management?" Pallone asked Dunnigan. "Would you be able to, for example, approve a quota for fishing of a stock not currently at maximum sustainable yield?"
Dunnigan said he was not certain of the response and that the issue needed to be looked into further.
Pallone also spoke directly with the bill's primary sponsor, Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), who assured him that OCEANS-21 is not intended to affect fisheries management. Pallone noted that he would work directly with Farr and others to ensure that the OCEANS-21 bill would not affect the ability of recreational anglers to fish but would instead coordinate efforts to prevent pollution affecting fish stocks.
Farr pointed out that the bill was intended to provide a mechanism for controlling other factors, such as pollution, that often deplete fish stocks and force fisheries managers to cut recreational quotas.
"My goal will be to work with the sponsors of the bill to make sure that fisheries management is not negatively impacted by the OCEANS-21 legislation," Pallone said.