If you’ve followed some of the Fisheries News we’ve linked to on our blog’s RSS feeds, you might have noticed a subtle change to some names. The organization that regulates how most fish in our oceans are managed is no longer the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). It’s now known as the NOAA Fisheries Service.
Another tidbit that’s flown under some news radars is the former NMFS parent organization, NOAA—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is slated to move from the Commerce Department to a new home under the Department of the Interior (DOI). This was announced last Friday, Jan. 13th.
Current speculation over what this portends is mixed right now. And ultimately, it’s up to the approval of Congress to move NOAA from Commerce to Interior. Given the current Congressional willingness to agree with the Obama Administration—even on the time of day—makes for some interesting political theater down the road.
So how does this affect our Fishing Fleets? Honestly, it’s too early to tell how NOAA and its Fisheries Service fares under DOI jurisdiction. Initially, there shouldn’t be significant changes. In the short term, it’s just shuffling boxes on an Organization Chart. If approved by Congress, down the road the move could have far wider implications when it comes to matters of funding.
Focusing back on near-term impacts to fisheries policy, currently there’s a series of meetings scheduled to address Fleet Diversity. These meetings will address the proposed Amendment 18 to the Magnuson-Stevens Act—the regulations which control how commercial fisheries and our oceans are managed by the government. These meetings are intended to be a chance for public comments.
To get a better sense of what Amendment 18 is about, when these meetings will be held, and how your comments can have impact, check out the work of our sister organization, the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA). Their website can be found at www.namanet.org.
As for concerns over the recent stock assessment and its impact on fishermen this upcoming fishing year starting in May, things just got a lot more interesting. There’s an intriguing article from the Jan. 16th Bangor Daily News that outlines what might be in store for all the nation’s fisheries.
Policies regulating our oceans are in flux. Here at CAFC we’re taking a “wait and see” attitude with the hopes that prudent and sound policy measures are put in place to find a harmonious balance between man and nature. Considering previous regulatory decisions and policies governing our fisheries and oceans, we’re not going to hold our breath.
It reminds one of that timeless statement, “may you live in interesting times.” For our nation’s fishermen and the shoreside operations that support them, these are interesting times indeed.