U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton and four other members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation have stepped into the fray over expanded federal monitoring of the state’s lobstermen, saying NOAA’s plan appears “duplicative and unnecessary.”
NOAA, citing the need to adhere to more stringent regulations for recording bycatch and discard data, announced earlier this summer it is significantly expanding the monitoring coverage for lobstermen with state and federal permits, while also mandating they complete vessel trip reports.
The lawmakers, in a letter to NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Eileen Sobeck, point out that the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries already conducts annual lobster stock surveys in Massachusetts waters that produce similar data to the information the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration seeks by expanding the coverage.
“At a time when the financial resources to federal agencies are limited, efforts by NOAA to expand the NEFOP (Northeast Fisheries Observer Program) to a subset of lobster vessels that hold federal permits, and to require vessel trip reports in order to meet the requirements of the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology appear duplicative and unnecessary,” they wrote in the July 31 letter to Sobeck.
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