Fisheries science and policy continue to evolve and appear to be moving in a direction that could benefit fishermen, but NOAA's efforts on the third leg of fisheries administration — enforcement — continue to be a cause for concern.
Enforcement changes were implemented after Inspector General Todd Zinser's report on whether different regions were being punished differently under NOAA, and on whether administration of the Asset Forfeiture Fund was appropriate, but the pace of the agency's attempt to make good on inappropriate enforcement is holding back greater progress.
The work of Special Master Charles B. Swartwood III to root out cases of improper enforcement came out of the inspector general's report. Payments were made after Swartwood's first report, and an appeals window was opened in March 2011 for those who needed it.
Swartwood wrote to the secretary last February — at the time, John Bryson — to tell him that there were 66 cases submitted by the special master to NOAA for responses. He wrote that his final report would be ready in less than two months, with all but five of the cases having already been returned to Swartwood.
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The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is currently soliciting applicants for open advisory panel seats as well as applications from scientists interested in serving on its Scientific and Statistical Committee.
The North Carolina Fisheries Association (NCFA), a nonprofit trade association representing commercial fishermen, seafood dealers and processors, recently announced a new leadership team. Incorporated in 1952, its administrative office is in Bayboro, N.C.