WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of senators is pressing for an independent review of how the federal government calculates fishing stocks in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic.
Those stocks are used to determine catch limits and have long been a source of contention for the fishing industry and environmentalists.
Environmental groups concerned about dwindling stocks of vulnerable species say overfishing could affect the Gulf region's ecology and economy for decades.
Fishermen say current catch limits are based on flawed science and have cost coastal communities jobs and other economic benefits.
The senators, led by Republican Marco Rubio of Florida, want to settle the dispute.
They've asked the Government Accountability Office, Congress' watchdog arm, to look into how the National Marine Fisheries Service determines which fishing stocks to analyze, how often they're examined and how much it costs federal taxpayers to conduct the inventory.
They also want the GAO to address reports that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the fisheries service, "may not be placing a high enough priority on conducting robust, peer-reviewed stock assessments on fisheries on the Gulf Coast and South Atlantic," according to the Feb. 28 letter asking for the review.
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National Fisherman Live: 1/13/15
In this episode:
Council hosts public hearing on Cashes Ledge
Report assesses Chesapeake water, fisheries
Warmer waters shake up Jersey fishing
North Pacific observer program altered for 2015
Woman aims to crowdsource lobstering career
National Fisherman Live: 12/30/14
In this episode, Michael Crowley, National Fisherman's Boats & Gear editor, interviews Chelsea Woodward, an engineer working with the NIOSH Alaska Pacific Office to design static guards for main drum winches used in the side trawl fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute is still seeking public review and comment on the Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management Conformance Criteria (Version 1.2, September 2011). The public review and comment period, which opened on Dec. 3, 2014, runs through Monday, Feb. 3.
NOAA, in consultation with the Department of the Interior, has appointed 10 new members to the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee. The 20-member committee is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience who advise the departments of commerce and the interior on ways to strengthen and connect the nation's MPA programs. The new members join the 10 continuing members appointed in 2012.