Oct 24 2011

Growing chorus against catch shares

'U.S. Capital' photo (c) 2009, chucka_nc - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Written by
John Oswald | Staff Writer

A number of U.S. legislators are voicing their growing displeasure with NOAA’s catch shares program by asking the federal government to abandon the controversial fisheries management measure.

Simply, catch share programs take the total allowable catch for a fishery and divide it up into shares which are then bought by individuals, associations, communities or corporations. A main concern among those raising the cry against catch shares is that the policy consolidates the fishery in the hands of a few large operations to the detriment of individual fishermen.

On Oct. 6, Congressman John Runyan (R-NJ) sent a letter to President Obama urging him to reconsider the use of catch share programs for commercial and recreational fishermen. In his letter, which was also signed by Representatives Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Frank Guinta (R-NH), and Sandy Adams (R-FL), Runyan wrote,

“Excessive government regulations have played a large role in our continued economic crisis. One of these excessive regulations is the catch share programs for fishermen. These programs have proven to decrease the number of fishing boats, which can have long lasting unintended economic consequences, including the loss of jobs in the fishing industry.”

Less than a week later, U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Scott Brown (R-MA) introduced the Saving Fishing Jobs Act of 2011 which would require, among other things, that the Secretary of Commerce terminate new and existing catch share programs that result in a 15 percent or more reduction in the total number of fishermen in the program.

“Catch share programs are driving New Hampshire’s fishermen out of business. Five months after federal catch shares were implemented in New England, 55 out of the initial 500 boats in the fishery controlled 61 percent of the revenue, and 253 of the boats were sitting at the dock, unable to fish without quota,” Sen. Ayotte said.

And as recently as Wednesday, an article in the Gloucester Times of Gloucester, Mass, reports that Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) has requested that NOAA administrator, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, declare the catch shares program a disaster.

Read the rest here.

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