Pallone Presses Officials on How to Improve Fisheries Management
Challenges Administration on Its Data Collection Program
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), a senior member of the House Committee on Natural Resources appeared at a Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs oversight hearing on data collection issues in determining catch limits for fish stocks. Pallone questioned both Dr. Richard Merrick, Chief Science Advisor of the National Marine Fisheries Service as well as Robert Beal, Executive Director of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Congressman Pallone asked the witnesses to provide recommendations on how to remove the current disconnect between management requirements and the science and data collection needed to accurately manage fisheries. Pallone contended that gaps between scientific data and management requirements lead to lower catch limits and that additional flexibility in the law is necessary to allow for fair catch limits. The witnesses stated that investments in stock assessments is one way to remove the disconnect and increase catch limits.
Pallone challenged Dr. Merrick as to whether the improved Marine Recreational Information Program will actually lead to more accurate fisheries management and asked whether he would support a National Research Council (NRC) review of the program to ensure that better data is being collected. Dr. Merrick responded that the program was still being implemented, but that he would support an NRC review.
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act has set the framework for determining how much of any fish stock can be harvested where and by whom each year in federal marine waters. The Magnuson Act is set to be reauthorized before next year.
Pallone’s Opening Remarks from Today’s House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries Hearing:
“I am glad today’s hearing is dedicated to data collection because it underpins our ability to properly manage our nation’s fisheries. Unfortunately, there is not much confidence in the data that is collected or the management of our fisheries. I hope that the answers to my questions will give this committee some ideas on how we can restore confidence and fix many of the problems that plague the current system.
“The Magnuson Act mandates strict compliance with annual catch limits and severe accountability measures that require fisheries closures and quota payback. But there is a disconnect between what Magnuson requires fisheries managers to do and what fisheries managers are able to do with the information they have at their disposable. I am interested in how we remove this disconnect and am committed to ensuring reauthorization means a better Magnuson Act.”