WE, THE PEOPLE, legal residents of the United States and members of the commercial fishing community, to achieve a more sustainable fishery and fishing industry, request formal congressional oversight hearings on the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) stewardship, which we find to be grossly deficient, causing severe economic harm, and in which we proclaim our vote of no confidence.
Fishery resource assessments, diligently conducted by marine scientists, are only part of the data equation needed to establish credible optimum yield estimates and develop true ecosystem based management. Marine fisheries, due to their primitive nature and extreme sensitivity to climatic changes, are at the vanguard of global warming economic impact.
NMFS has failed to promulgate any comprehensive methodology for assessing the impacts of such environmental variability on reproductive patterns, migration routes and ecosystem relationships. NMFS instead has placed the entire onus of resource depletion on commercial fishermen with constraints recklessly causing severe harm and suffering to the fishing community. Fishermen, who have obeyed NMFS regulations, now find themselves and their fishing communities on the brink of economic disaster.
Federal court recently has rebuked our government for its gross lack of comprehensively addressing the impacts of global warming, and as corroborated in a September 2007 report by the Government Accountability Office. U.S. fisheries already must operate in an unfair competitive arena of fisheries subsidized by other nations, from where imports now greatly surpass U.S. harvests. Our fisheries no longer can sustain more elitist federal disregard. That the U.S. demands the destructive discard of all inadvertent by-catch in the face of world hunger only manifests a nation’s arrogance. NMFS’s expedited resource recovery plans will turn the small fisherman, unable financially to sustain more constraints without due compensation, inhumanely into the ultimate by-catch.
Without comprehensive assessments on potential environmental change impacts on marine fisheries, optimum yields must not be lowered without providing equal compensation to affected fishing communities. The government legally cannot have it both ways, however in the absence of comprehensive impact data, compensation also cannot be ascertained. Historical data and resource assessments no longer are sufficient to meet baseline scientific requirements to substantiate NMFS’s recovery plans.
No industry could reasonably operate in a business manner under such a constant barrage of abrupt emergency actions and regulatory changes by NMFS for over a decade. Immediate congressional oversight of NMFS’s assessment methodology, not its simple consideration of environmental variability, is the next logical action to the findings of the federal court and the GAO. Taking no action only would condone the present suffering of our fishing communities and set dangerous federal precedent for placing other sectors of our nation’s agricultural communities in similar jeopardy of economic distress and increased foreign dependence. We trust our congressional representatives to have both the will and the wisdom to take rightful action and stop this bleeding.
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