Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Wednesday, 01 June 2011
President Obama's nominee for commerce secretary, John Bryson, has an interesting background, including a mix of business interests as well as the Natural Resources Defense Council.
I understand why many people in the fishing industry are concerned about how Bryson's history as a founder of NRDC would affect his leadership of the department that oversees U.S. commercial fishing. However, my biggest concern remains that just under the commerce secretary, Jane Lubchenco, head of NOAA, has already clarified her preference for environmental groups over American fishermen.
Lest we forget, last year at the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas gathering Lubchenco requested a reduction in the American bluefin quota after being urged by a bipartisan and seasoned congressional coalition to ask for a slight increase.
That said, I'm satisfied with NOAA's decision late last week to list bluefin tuna as a species of concern. We still don't know what, if any, effect the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has had on bluefin spawning grounds in the Gulf of Mexico.
But what we do know without a doubt is that American and Canadian fishermen are not putting undue pressure on this species because their quotas are strictly enforced.
Listing the bluefin as an endangered species would do little if anything to protect overseas stocks and would in fact shut down tuna fishing on this side of the Atlantic, resulting in the punishment of our own fishermen for the wrongs of foreign fishermen. And the savings would amount to only 5 percent of the annual tuna harvest.
The best thing we can do as Americans, consumers, politicians and fishermen is continue to pressure the international community to reduce fishing effort worldwide. Boycott bluefin caught overseas. Make Western Atlantic tuna a culturally valuable product.
The ability to monitor and control our own fisheries in our own waters is the inspiration behind the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Let's not make jetsam out of the principles set forth in that monumental piece of fisheries legislation.
Instead, I hope environmental organizations will endeavor to make inroads in nations that flout fishing regulations and take the fight overseas, where they can make the biggest difference.
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