Pallone Voices Concern Over Bush's Funding Proposal for the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey
Washington, D.C. --- U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), senior Democrat on the House Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee, today voiced serious concern over President Bush's Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 budget for the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS). The New Jersey congressman raised his concerns at a hearing on next year's budget requests for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) with Under Secretary of NOAA, Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, Jr.
The MRFSS is used to show trends in catch by recreational anglers in order to establish regulations to control fishing mortality, allocate fishery resources amongst user groups, and assess the impacts of regulations on anglers and the sport fishing industry. The MRFFS has been under scrutiny for years because of inaccurate and incomplete data. Pallone has voiced concerns relating to the validity of MRFSS because of growing constituent concerns about the reliability of the data collected.
At today's hearing, Pallone asked Admiral Lautenbacher what NOAA's plans were to correct the MRFSS system while noting that one of the biggest short-comings to the survey is the lack of money. In response to the question from Pallone regarding where funding for the MRFSS comes from, Admiral Lautenbacher had a difficult time explaining how the program was funded.
The New Jersey congressman said the program will continue to be shortchanged until it receives specific funding through a line item in the budget. "It will be difficult to advocate in Congress for more funding without a line item," Pallone said. The Congressman also said he would look into increasing the funding over the President's levels.
Pallone requested subcommittee Chairman Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) schedule a hearing on the MRFSS in order to investigate methods to improve future stock assessments and recreational catch data within the recreational fishery. Gilchrest agreed to hold such a hearing in the coming month.