Category Archives: fisheries

Congressman Pallone Calls for Less Restrictive Flounder Quotas for Commercial and Recreational Fishermen

2012 summer flounder quota is 26 percent lower than 2011

WASHINGTON D.C. — Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) on Wednesday submitted a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) expressing disappointment in the reduced 2012 quota limits for summer flounder stock in the recently released interim specifications. The Congressman requested that NMFS approve a quota that is less restrictive. The proposed 2012 quota represents an approximate 26 percent reduction from 2011, which would significantly impact the recreational and commercial fisherman whose livelihoods depend on a fair flounder quota.

For years, fishermen in New Jersey have sacrificed catch and complied with strict quotas approved by NMFS to rebuild the flounder stock. Recently, NMFS declared the summer flounder stock rebuilt, but fishermen will still face restrictive fish quotas rather than benefitting from years of limited access to fish stocks.

New Jersey fishermen have abided by restrictive quotas long enough, waiting for the full flounder stock to be rebuilt,” said Pallone. “Now that the stock is rebuilt, it is critical to approve a less drastic flounder quota for 2012 so fishermen and related businesses do not suffer economically and can continue to operate.”

In the long term, in order to lift the burden on fishermen, Pallone has introduced the “Flexibility and Access in Rebuilding Americas Fisheries Act,” which will give the Department of Commerce the necessary authority to ensure that the nation’s fisheries are managed in a scientific way that protects fishermen and jobs.

“I hope the National Marine Fisheries Services will support my bill to create flexibility in managing fisheries so that both fishermen and fish are protected for the future,” said Pallone.

The following is the text of Congressman Pallone’s letter to NMFS:

February 16, 2012

NOAA Fisheries Service
1315 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910


Dear Acting Assistant Administrator Rauch:

As you are aware, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently released interim specifications for the summer flounder stock for 2012. While I realize these specifications are interim and based on recommendations from the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, I have concerns with the proposed reductions in quota.

The proposed specifications represent an approximately 26 percent reduction over last year’s quota which will have a significant impact on the regions recreational and commercial fishermen and related businesses. Particularly during these difficult economic times with American families struggling, the National Marine Fisheries Service must consider the economic and social impact of such a drastic decision.

As you are aware, NMFS recently declared the summer flounder stock as rebuilt. This is not an accomplishment that has come without pain. Recreational and commercial fishermen have sacrificed catch and complied with strict quotas that were based on an arbitrary rebuilding timeline. Fortunately, in the case of summer flounder, a 3 year extension reduced the annual pain that was inflicted. Still, fishermen were promised that this rigid rebuilding timeline would yield greater fishing opportunities once a stock was rebuilt.

As indicated by this year’s summer flounder quota reductions, it appears that fishermen are not benefiting as promised from these years of restrictive policies. This is in part due to the continued reliance on an overly precautious approach to management which unnecessarily places the burden on fishermen. I have proposed H.R. 3061, the Flexibility and Access in Rebuilding Americas Fisheries Act, which will provide the Department of Commerce with the necessary authority to ensure that our nation’s fisheries are managed in a sound scientific way that also protects fishermen and their contributions to our economic vitality.

I believe that it is critical that NMFS support these efforts to create flexibility in managing fisheries so that both fishermen and fish are protected. I ask that NMFS further evaluate its options for the upcoming summer flounder fishing year and approve final specifications that are not as drastic as those currently proposed.

Thank you for considering this letter.

Sincerely,

FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress

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Filed under Congressman Frank Pallone, fisheries, fishermen, flounder qoutas, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)

Lautenberg, Menendez, Pallone Call on President to Reconsider Plan to Close NOAA Sandy Hook Lab

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 14, 2012

WASHINGTON—One day after the Obama Administration released a budget plan that eliminates funding for the fisheries lab at Sandy Hook, U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), today called on the President to reconsider his decision to close the lab. The members vowed to work through the Congressional appropriations process to restore funding for this successful research facility.

“Today, the research that is performed at the NOAA lab produces vital information on marine species that serves as a foundation for our economy and jobs across the region,” the Congress members wrote to President Obama. “We will work to prevent the closure of this facility during the upcoming appropriations process and we ask that you reconsider your position. The NOAA laboratory at Sandy Hook is a vital facility and maintaining it will allow the important scientific research that is performed in one of the country’s most unique and biologically diverse environments to continue.”

A copy of the letter’s text is below:

February 14, 2012

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to express our strong opposition to the proposal in your Fiscal Year 2013 Budget to close the NOAA Fisheries Service James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. The closure of this lab would have a negative impact on NOAA’s ability to carry out its mission and damage progress that has been made in fisheries-based scientific research.

The NOAA laboratory, dedicated in September 1961, was the first federal scientific laboratory devoted solely to research on marine recreational species. The opening of this lab reflected the importance of acquiring scientific information to support the sustainability of marine resources that are greatly important to coastal communities. Today, the research that is performed at the NOAA lab produces vital information on marine species that serves as a foundation for our economy and jobs across the region.

The NOAA laboratory at Sandy Hook performs critical research that not only supports New Jersey marine habitats, but also provides greater insight into the issues our nation faces in maintaining a clean and sustainable ocean environment. The decision to close the NOAA laboratory will put all of this critical research at risk and limit our understanding of how we can best protect the ocean environment and the ocean-based economy.

This past September, NOAA staff including Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries Eric Schwaab celebrated 50 years of important achievements made at the NOAA laboratory at Sandy Hook. Now, just a few short months later, your budget proposes to put an end to the important work that is done at the lab.

We will work to prevent the closure of this facility during the upcoming appropriations process and we ask that you reconsider your position. The NOAA laboratory at Sandy Hook is a vital facility and maintaining it will allow the important scientific research that is performed in one of the country’s most unique and biologically diverse environments to continue.

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Filed under budget cuts, Congressman Frank Pallone, fisheries, NOAA labs, President Obama, Sandy Hook, US. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, US. Sen. Robert Menendez