PALLONE REQUESTS IMMEDIATE REINSTATEMENT OF SURF CLAMS AND OCEAN QUAHOGS SURVEY
Following a decision by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to cancel a survey of surf clams and ocean quahogs, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today sent the following letter to NOAA requesting that it immediately shift resources to ensure that the survey is completed on schedule.
The New Jersey congressman believes this survey will provide critical data for fishermen and scientists to assess where to find the largest quantities of surf clam and ocean quahogs. It will also help the industry better understand where surf clams and ocean quahogs are located in order to help guide the industry's coming harvest and reduce its operating costs by minimizing its sailing time and related fuel costs.
June 13, 2008
Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., US Navy (Retired)
Undersecretary of Oceans and Commerce and NOAA Administrator
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Dear Admiral Lautenbacher:
It has come to my attention that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has canceled a survey of surf clams and ocean quahogs. I am deeply disturbed by this decision because this survey is critical for the effective management of surf clam and ocean quahog resources. I am requesting that NOAA immediately shift resources to ensure that the survey is completed on schedule.
Within the last eight years we have witnessed unprecedented changes in the surf clam populations off the Mid-Atlantic States that appear to be directly related to climate change. Recently, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council science advisers urged new research into how climate change may be forcing a shift of surf clams toward the northeast and away from New Jersey. This survey will provide vital data for fishermen and scientists on the location of the largest beds of surf clams and ocean quahogs in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Furthermore, the annual survey would have provided the first detailed survey of clams on Georges Bank in three years. Researchers believe that up to 40 percent of the surf clam and ocean quahog resources lie in the Bank. The surf clam and ocean quahog resources are fisheries that exceed $60 million in value here on the Atlantic coast. However, since 2005, flat prices, rising costs, and a decline in productivity as clammers go farther in search of good fishing has hurt the clamming industry. This survey will help the industry better understand where surf clams and ocean quahogs are located so as to help guide the industry's coming harvest and reduce its operating costs by minimizing its sailing time and related fuel costs.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to discussing this with you further.
FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress