NOAA funds projects intended to reduce bycatch with USD 2.5 million
Fis.com - December 20, 2018
NOAA Fisheries announces the availability of approximately USD 2.5 million for projects that increase collaborative research and partnerships for innovation in bycatch reduction.
Fishing operations sometimes end up in “bycatch” of non-target species
The farm bill’s untold story: What did Congress do for fish sticks?
Alaska Public Media by Liz Ruskin - December 18, 2018
The farm bill that Congress passed last week will be known for many things. It increases subsidies for farmers and legalizes industrial hemp. But for Alaska, the bigger impact might be what the bill does for fish sticks served in school lunchrooms across America.
Modern Fish Act (S. 1520) Passes Senate and House; All Stakeholders Happy with This Bill
SeafoodNews by John Sackton - December 20, 2018
The Modern Fish Act, a law that updates many regulations around recreational fishing, has passed both the Senate and the House, and is expected to be signed by President Trump.
The bill was welcomed by all stakeholders, both environmental, commercial, and recreational organizations praising the legislation.
It certainly did not start out with such universal praise. The initial law would have targeted IFQ programs in the Gulf, would have upended council authority over recreational fisheries, and would have imposed new restrictions on the regional fisheries management councils.
But due to a huge amount of work, the final bill is balanced among all competing interests, and keeps the primacy of fisheries science intact in setting harvest limits. It also addresses catch share programs (except in the N. Pacific and Pacific Councils) with a National Academy of Science study. And it gives councils far more flexibility to use different effort control strategies for recreational vs. commercial fisheries.
Above all, the new law on recreational fisheries fits squarely within the confines of the Magnuson Stevens Act, and does not overrule or modify its intent or major provisions.
A quick summary has the law:
· Providing authority and direction to NOAA Fisheries to apply additional management tools more appropriate for recreational fishing, many of which are successfully implemented by state fisheries agencies (e.g., extraction rates, fishing mortality targets, harvest control rules, or traditional or cultural practices of native communities);
· Improving recreational harvest data collection by requiring federal managers to explore other data sources that have tremendous potential to improve the accuracy and timeliness of harvest estimates, such as state-driven programs and electronic reporting (e.g., through smartphone apps);
· Requiring the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study on the process of mixed-use fishery allocation review by the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Regional Fishery Management Councils and report findings to Congress within one year of enactment of the Modern Fish Act, and
· Requiring the National Academies of Sciences to complete a study and provide recommendations within two years of the enactment of the Modern Fish Act on limited access privilege programs (catch shares) including an assessment of the social, economic, and ecological effects of the program, considering each sector of a mixed-use fishery and related businesses, coastal communities, and the environment and an assessment of any impacts to stakeholders in a mixed-use fishery caused by a limited access privilege program. This study excludes the Pacific and North Pacific Regional Fishery Management Councils.
The Professional Fish Harvesters Organization, representing numerous regional commercial groups, strongly supported the bill. They said “Senator Wicker’s bill is the result of many negotiations and good-faith compromises made by Members and staff on both sides of the aisle and we are grateful for their bipartisan approach to this bill. We applaud Senator Wicker’s work to improve recreational fishing data collection without hamstringing commercial fisheries management. “
“This bill represents the success we can achieve when fishing sectors work together to find common-sense solutions,” said Chris Brown, President of Seafood Harvesters of America.
“As we’ve recently seen in the West Coast mixed-use groundfish fishery, when all sectors commit to the long-term sustainability of America’s fishery resources, we see the resource grow for all instead of fighting over how to allocate it. Improving accountability and data collection in all sectors will improve our management and increase our fish stocks, something everyone can agree on.”
“The Magnuson-Stevens Act has allowed the fishing industry and its businesses to emerge from the days of over-fishing to now enjoying a record number of rebuilt stocks, creating jobs and opportunities” said Leigh Habegger, Executive Director of the Seafood Harvesters. “We anticipate that improvements in recreational fisheries management as a result of the Modern Fish Act will build on past successes and feed quality data into our management systems to further enhance the management and stewardship of our fishery resources. We look forward to continuing to work with Senator Wicker, the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee on full implementation of the MSA.”
Environmental groups were equally effusive. Matt Tinning, Associate Vice President, Oceans Program for EDF, said
“Over the course of the last year the Modern Fish Act has gone from a conservation threat to a bipartisan achievement. Throughout the negotiations we insisted that any modification to the Magnuson-Stevens Act maintain the core elements that have made U.S. fisheries a global model of success: clear, science-based conservation standards and a variety of tools for regional fisheries management councils to apply in ways that meet local needs. We can all be proud to have reached agreement on a bill that responds to the demands of recreational fishing advocates without jeopardizing either sustainability or Americans’ access to local seafood.
“This has been a tremendous year of progress on recreational fishing issues, driven by innovative thinking at the regional level. The successful start of pilots testing state management of private anglers in the Gulf of Mexico and approval of new data collection systems represent important milestones for fisheries management in this country. We look forward to working under this new legislation to ensure that sustainable access to fisheries is maintained both for anglers who fish themselves and for the rest of the country that relies on commercial fishermen to access federal fishery resources.”
Robert Vandermark, executive director of the Marine Fish Conservation Network, said “The Network appreciates that U.S. Representatives accepted the Senate’s hard work to improve this legislation and passed the bill without amendment.”
“The task of modernizing our fisheries can only come through a bipartisan and comprehensive reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The Network will work with the 116th Congress to ensure future changes to our federal fisheries law promote healthy oceans and productive fisheries for all Americans who depend upon them.”
Recreational fishing groups, and the marine manufacturers associations which drive recreational fishing legislation were also pleased.
"We are proud of the extensive work that went into producing this bill and are grateful to our champions in Congress who worked to establish recreational angling as an important component in the management of our nation's fisheries, at long last," said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. "Thanks to this effort, the recreational angling community is better positioned than ever to address ongoing shortcomings in our nation's fisheries laws and we look forward to continuing this work with our elected officials to ensure the proper conservation of our country's marine resources and anglers' access to them."
“We applaud the U.S. Senate for approving this common sense legislation, which will modernize our federal fisheries management system and protect recreational angling for generations to come,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
With legislative action complete, all expect this bill to become law very quickly.
Only one applicant for ADFG chief
Alaska Journal of Commerce by Elizabeth Earl - December 19, 2018
Members of the boards of Fisheries and Game will meet jointly Jan. 16 to choose an applicant to forward to Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy for the commissioner’s seat, but it likely won’t be a long meeting with just one applicant.
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