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Letter to Under Secretary Lubchenco and Assistant Administrator Schwaab

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), along with seven colleagues, today sent a bipartisan, bicameral letter calling for guidance from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on ways to address the needs and characteristics of individual fishing communities as Regional Fishery Management Councils develop catch share policies.

In their letter, the Senators wrote, "Fishing is an important economic driver in many of our nation's coastal communities, and protecting this resource is even more essential now than ever as our nation struggles to rebound from the economic downturn. We ask that NMFS provide the necessary guidance during the implementation of its Catch Share Policy to ensure a vibrant future for our local fishing economies."

In addition to Senator Boxer, the letter is signed by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), John Kerry (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mark Begich (D-AK) along with Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR).

November 3, 2011

Dr. Jane Lubchenco
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Room 5128
Washington, D.C. 20230

Mr. Eric C. Schwaab
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1315 East West Highway
Room 14636
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Dear Under Secretary Lubchenco and Assistant Administrator Schwaab:

We are writing to request the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) provide guidance to Regional Fishery Management Councils (RFMCs) regarding the implementation of its Catch Share Policy.

Catch share programs are a fisheries management tool that, based on experience, are expected to provide economic and environmental benefits in some fisheries. However, concerns have been raised that catch shares could also have impacts on fishing communities, such as consolidation of fishing effort and quota, and potential disproportionate impacts on smaller fishing communities. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006 (MSA 2006) authorized the development of community associations to mitigate such impacts, including Fishing Communities and Regional Fishing Associations. In addition, related tools have since emerged, including Community Fishing Associations and bycatch risk pools.

Several catch share programs are currently being developed across the country as deemed appropriate by RFMCs. Realizing there is no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing such concerns, we encourage NMFS to provide additional guidance to RFMCs on potential options to help local fishing communities adapt to catch share programs, including:

1. Strategies for the RFMCs to involve fishing communities at an early stage in the decision-making process to determine if catch shares and/or community associations are appropriate and ensure that the diverse needs of different communities are addressed.

2. Suggested approaches for the development of community associations or other mechanisms to retain local jobs and fishing heritage in traditional fishing-dependent communities.

3. Mechanisms for monitoring the economic and environmental impacts of catch shares following their implementation, so that best practices can be identified and adjustments can be made as needed.

4. Cost-effective monitoring techniques (such as vessel monitoring systems combined with video monitoring) to help smaller-scale fishermen adjust to the monitoring requirements of catch shares.

Fishing is an important economic driver in many of our nation's coastal communities, and protecting this resource is even more essential now than ever as our nation struggles to rebound from the economic downturn. We ask that NMFS provide the necessary guidance during the implementation of its Catch Share Policy to ensure a vibrant future for our local fishing economies.

Thank you for your consideration of this vital issue affecting our fishing communities.

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Lisa Murkowski
United States Senator

John Kerry
United States Senator

Ron Wyden
United States Senator

Jeff Merkley
United States Senator

Mark Begich
United States Senator

Mike Thompson
Member of Congress

Peter DeFazio
Member of Congress


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