Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation, testified before Congress this week on behalf of the many marine industry groups at a hearing titled, “NOAA’s Fishery Science: Is the Lack of Basic Science Costing Jobs?”
The hearing was held by the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs, and was conducted to determine how NOAA's fishery research affects jobs and the coastal economy.
Angers testified on behalf of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the American Sportfishing Association, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the International Game Fish Association and The Billfish Foundation.
As amended in 2006, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires federal fishery management councils to enact annual catch limits and accountability measures for every fishery by Dec. 31, 2011.
The requirements were intended to end overfishing by 2011 but were predicated on two assumptions: NOAA Fisheries would make decisions based on up-to-date and accurate stock assessments; and the agency would improve catch data to better anticipate potential problems in a given fishery.
“NMMA and the angling community do not believe these obligations have been met,” the NMMA said.
In his testimony, Angers endorsed the Fishery Science Improvement Act that seeks to avoid a situation in which NOAA is compelled by statutory deadlines to make major fishery management decisions using inadequate data and incomplete analysis. The bill stipulates that if the agency has not assessed a stock of fish in the last five years and there is no indication that overfishing is occurring, there is no requirement to set an annual catch limit.