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 PRESS RELEASE: House Committee on Resources 4/25/06

Pombo, Frank hold hearing on Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization
Local citizens from New Bedford, Mass. discuss benefits of
flexible rebuilding plans, effects on local economy

WASHINGTON - The House Resources Committee today held a field hearing in New Bedford, Mass. on H.R. 5018, the American Fisheries Management and Marine-Life Enhancement Act, sponsored by Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-Calif.), Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). The hearing also looked at H.R. 4940, the Fishery Management Amendments of 2006, also sponsored by Rep. Frank.

Both bills would reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, initially passed in 1976, which oversees fisheries resources and fishing activities in Federal waters and established the eight Regional Fishery Management Councils responsible for the conservation and management of U.S. Fishery resources.

"Today we heard from several local witnesses who feel strongly that such reauthorization and refinement of Magnuson-Stevens is long overdue," Chairman Pombo said. "It is critical for fishery managers to have the tools they need to develop flexible rebuilding plans that do not also devastate the local economy, especially for the many New Englanders who consider fishing to be more than just a vocation - it's a way of life."

The process of managing fisheries is accomplished through the preparation of a fishery management plan (FMP) for each fishery. These FMPs require scientific assessments of the fishery resources and then the issuance of conservative allocations of catch for the domestic fishing fleet. The Regional Councils or the Secretary of Commerce have prepared and implemented more than 40 FMPs, some of which have been amended numerous times.

"I am grateful to Chairman Pombo for today's hearing, and I believe we succeeded in giving a very representative segment of the commercial fishing industry in southeastern Massachusetts the opportunity to express their views," Rep. Frank said.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act was authorized through FY 1999. Since 2000, the House Resources Committee has held 16 hearings and heard from 133 witnesses on issues associated with the reauthorization. In the 109th Congress alone, the Resources Committee has held four hearings on the reauthorization of this important act.

"If there's anything our fishermen can understand, it's how precarious their futures are," said Debra Shrader, executive director of Shore Support, Inc., and who testified at today's hearing. "Single boat owners and many fishermen will not be around when stocks finally rebound because most fisherman have either had their right to harvest fish taken away or it has diminished to the point where they have to choose between supporting their families and listening to the calling in their hearts to continue to work at sea."

Those invited to testify at today's hearing included: Dr. Steven Murawski, director of scientific programs and chief science advisor at the National Marine Fisheries Service; Dr. Brian Rothschild, dean of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology; Ms. Debra Shrader, President of Shore Support, Inc.; Mr. David Bergeron, coordinator of the Massachusetts Fishermen's Partnership; Mr. Chris Wright, scallop fisherman; Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, Institute for Study of Earth, Oceans and Space at the University of New Hampshire; and Ms. Jacqueline Odell, executive director for the Northeast Seafood Coalition.

For More Information on H.R. 5018 and Bill Text, Click Here

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