Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) today participated in a Natural Resources Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans & Insular Affairs (FWOIA) subcommittee hearing on H.R. 6096, the Atlantic Fisheries Statutes Reauthorization Act of 2012. The bill, which Pallone introduced with Congressman Jon Runyan (NJ-03), reauthorizes a number of vital fisheries conservation programs to help protect species like Atlantic Striped Bass and Atlantic Sturgeon. Representatives from the commercial and recreational fishing industries were questioned during the hearing about the impact of the legislation on their relative sector.
During the hearing, Pallone asked Jim Hutchinson, Managing Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, about the impact a reduction in the Menhaden stock, which striped bass feed on, has on the striped bass fishery. A provision in the bill provides for the study of the feeding habits of striped bass in the NY/NJ Bight to better understand the health of the species.
"I am pleased to welcome experts from the commercial and recreational fishing industries and hear their assessments on how this bill will impact fishermen in New Jersey," said Pallone. "With this legislation we aim to protect our fishermen by getting the best science available, ensuring cooperation between the states in fisheries management and providing funding to programs that promote resource conservation through smart management."
Greg DiDomenico, Executive Director of the Garden State Seafood Association, also participated in the hearing. The bill requires a comprehensive survey and stock assessment of Atlantic Sturgeon, which is currently listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Pallone asked Mr. DiDomenico about the future economic impacts that could be realized from performing the stock assessment included in H.R. 6096 and how the assessment will improve our understanding of the status of the species.
"In New Jersey, commercial and recreational fishing supports nearly 50,000 jobs and is a major driver of our economy. This bill is critical to ensuring that our nation's fisheries are kept healthy and sustainable." said Pallone.