Mar 28 2012

House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on the National Ocean Policy’s Effect on Fishing

California Capitol Hill Bulletin – March 22, 2012

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs met on Thursday, March 21, 2012 for an oversight hearing titled Empty Hooks: The National Ocean Policy is the Latest Threat to Access for Recreational and Commercial Fishermen. The Committee previously held a hearing on the National Ocean Policy on October 4, 2011.

Witnesses included: Captain Robert F. Zales, II, President, National Association of Charterboat Operators; Gary Zurn, Senior Vice President Marketing, Big Rock Sports, LLC; Terry Gibson, Principle, North Swell Media, LLC; George J. Mannina, Jr., Partner, Nossaman, LLC; and Justin LeBlanc, Federal Representative, United Charter Boats.

The President signed an executive order on July 19th, 2010 to adopt the final recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, effectively instituting the new National Ocean Policy (the Policy). Over 140 federal laws and numerous agencies have jurisdiction over ocean resources. The aim of the Policy is to manage commerce and conservation of ocean resources through a “comprehensive and collaborative framework for the stewardship of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes that facilitates cohesive actions across the Federal Government, as well as participation of State, tribal, and local authorities, regional governance structures, nongovernmental organizations, the public, and the private sector.” The National Ocean Council, tasked with implementing the Policy, extended the public comment period on the draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan by one month through March 28, 2012. House Resources Committee Chair Doc Hastings (WA) had requested that the deadline be extended by 90 days, arguing “[t]he likelihood of deterring new investment and job creation is too great to rush the implementation of this questionable new federal bureaucracy.”

This week’s hearing focused on the effects of the Policy on commercial and recreational fishing. Issues discussed included:

 

  • Recreational and commercial fishing statistics, including that recreational fishing in 2009 produced sales impacts totaling $50 billion and value added impacts of $23 billion while providing over 327,000 jobs. Commercial Fishing provided over 1 million jobs, $116 billion in sales and $32 billion in income impacts.

 

  • The possible negative effect of the Policy on jobs directly and indirectly related to fishing.

 

  • The level of involvement of stakeholders in the advancement of the Policy, with concerns raised regarding the lack of fishery representatives on the Policy’s Regional Planning Bodies.

 

  • The current regulatory burdens on fishing (including no-fishing mandates), and whether the industry can absorb more regulation without serious consequence to its economic value.

 

  • The Policy’s lack of regulatory authority, but the concern that it may still add new and expanded regulations on already regulated industries and activities.

 

  • The impact of California’s expected finalization of a statewide effort that will place 15-20 percent of the state’s coastal waters off limits to fishing through a process called the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPA).

 

  • The benefits that can be realized because of the Policy’s new management framework, which will create a coordinated, regional system that breaks down barriers between different agencies and reduces the complicated regulatory bureaucracy currently governing the oceans.

 

Read the article on California Capital Hill Bulletin, or for more information visit NaturalResources.house.gov.

 

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