, Gloucester, MA

Latest Cape Ann News

March 11, 2010

Congressional panel wades into 'catch share' debate

A congressional subcommittee has called for the first public airing before federal lawmakers of the Obama administration's nationwide push for the kind of "catch share" fisheries management that's due for a May 1 launch in New England.

The hearing next Tuesday before the House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife, will feature at least two West Coast groups that have been critical of the push for catch shares, the Times has confirmed.

Representing the administration will be new National Marine Fisheries Service head Eric Schwaab.

The oversight hearing will be the third in the last two weeks on fisheries issues, and it comes as scrutiny of catch shares remains high in the wake of the "United We Fish" rally in Washington last month.

But it will be the first time that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's plan to advance catch shares systems — which essentially convert allocations of wild fish stocks into private assets and divide them among stakeholders — will be aired before Congress.

Unlike recent congressional reviews of fisheries issues — like last week's oversight hearing at Gloucester City Hall, which focused on NOAA enforcement wrongdoing as outlined in a Department of Commerce Inspector General's report — Tuesday's gathering will have a West Coast feel.

In addition to Schwaab, the Times has confirmed that Ed Backus of the Portland, Ore., environmental group Ecotrust will testify. Among environmental groups, Ecotrust has been one of the most skeptical voices on the nationwide move for catch shares.

Yesterday, Backus said he planned to tell lawmakers that Congress should establish new standards and safeguards — such as community permit banking — to prevent catch shares from resulting in wholesale consolidation of fisheries and loss of fishing communities.

Backus called the approval of catch share systems through regional councils "politically capricious for implementing market design."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest Cape Ann News

Pictures of the Week
Your news, your way
Comments Tracker
AP Video Network
Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape Texas Gov. Perry: Indictment 'a Political Act' US Officials: Video Shows American's Beheading Video Shows Ferguson Cop Months Before Shooting Water Bottles Recalled for Safety Researcher Testing On-Field Concussion Scanners