U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), in light of the president's budget, sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Locke warning about the negative economic impact of the administration's budget priorities on New Jersey fishermen. In the letter, Pallone along with Sens. Kay Hagen (D-NC), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Scott Brown (R-MA), and Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Mike McIntyre (D-NC), expressed concerns that the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration's catch share policy emphasizes restrictive management over research that increases quotas.
"I'm concerned that NOAA's overly restrictive policies will shutout thousands of fishermen who want to fish along the shore," said Pallone. "These policies will have the ripple effect of hurting business at our local bait and tackle shops, sandwich shops, fish markets and the tourism industry."
Pallone has always been a strong for advocate proper fisheries management that is based on science and urged that more funding be directed to research over blind regulations.
"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," the representatives wrote in the letter.
NOAA has requested $54 million to encourage the adoption of catch share programs but has not committed the necessary funds to assess fishery stocks as it is required to do under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. In their letter, members said that NOAA must do this assessment before considering a new fishery management tool that will have support from the fishing industry.
Hearings on the administration's budget request will be held in the coming weeks.