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Letter to Frank Wolf, Chairman of the US House Committee on Appropriations, and Chaka Fattah, Ranking Member of the US House Committee on Appropriations - Increase Administration's Budget Request for Fisheries Research and Management Programs

Dear Chairman Wolf and Ranking Member Fattah,

We wanted to share with you our opposition to the Administration's request to transfer money from Fisheries Research to Catch Share programs in the 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. Specifically, the President's Budget request calls for transfers of $11,400,000 from the Fisheries Research and Management Programs to the National Catch Share Program, and $6,002,000 from Cooperative Research to the National Catch Share Program. We are strongly opposed to these proposed transfers.

Detailed and accurate scientific data is necessary to accurately assess the health and sustainability of fishery stocks. A lack of funding for fisheries research has led to fishery managers making decisions based on out-of-date, sometimes even decade's old, science. Decisions based on misinformation can result in all fishermen -- big and small -- catching less fish than the previous year and in some cases results in a fishery closure.

These decisions detrimentally impact small fishermen the most. If a fishery is closed based on outdated science, the largest commercial fishermen can move to another species as a potential economic alternative, while many small recreational and commercial fishermen don't have this option. Small fishermen rely on specific species, and simply can't survive a fishery closure or drastic reduction in quota based on bad science. Thousands of jobs have already been lost around the country due to this problem, we can't afford to lose thousands more.

Despite this, the Administration is requesting more money to implement new catch share programs from the top-down. In the past, catch-share programs were implemented from the bottom-up with the support of fishermen in Alaska and on the west coast. This is no longer the case. Most fishermen on the east coast are opposed to catch share programs, and yet the Administration continues to try to force this upon them. These fishermen are concerned that catch shares will consolidate the fleet and put the small fishermen out of business costing thousands of jobs for an already struggling industry. Catch share programs combined with poor science means less jobs and less access to our ocean's natural bounty.

We appreciate the need to reduce spending wherever possible, and applaud your efforts to do so, but we oppose the proposed transfer of funds to catch shares. Fisheries research will help to preserve thousands of coastal jobs, and aid in the recovery of our economy.

We thank you in advance for considering this request, and thank you for your service to the committee.


Jon Runyan Walter Jones Barney Frank
Member of Congress Member of Congress Member of Congress

Sandy Adams Chris Smith Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Member of Congress Member of Congress Member of Congress

Steve Southerland, II Gus Bilirakis Andy Harris, M.D.
Member of Congress Member of Congress Member of Congress

Frank LoBiondo Frank Pallone
Member of Congress Member of Congress

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