Seafood Harvesters Oppose Reallocation of Fish Resources

Seafood Harvesters of America, whose
membership includes several Pacific Northwest commercial fishing organizations,
is raising concerns over a five-year reallocation mandate included in draft
reauthorization of federal fisheries legislation.
Chris Brown, president of the organization,
said his members feel “that those who want more access to fishery resources
should be responsible for sustaining our fishery stocks.

The proposed mandate in question is
included in work underway on reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery
Conservation and Management Act.

The organization’s 14 member commercial
fisheries groups include Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, Alaska Whitefish Trawlers
Association, Fishing Vessel Owners Association, United Catcher Boats and the
North Pacific Fisheries Association.

Brown said fishing allocations should be
based on thorough scientific analysis, as determined by regional fishery
management councils, not arbitrary politics.

“Reallocating these resources to
recreational users, who do not adhere to the same accountability and data
collection requirements as the commercial fishing industry, would be a step
backward in ensuring that America-caught seafood makes its way to millions of
American consumers,” he said.

Brown said that Southeast Alaska serves as
an excellent example of strong accountability and cooperation between recreational
and commercial fishermen.

“There, halibut recreational charter and
commercial fishermen must report their catches through an effective quota
system, which are accounted for in the total allowable catch. So we are calling
for a phased in approach for a recreational sport fishery harvest data
collection plan in regions where recreational harvest accountability can be
improved,” he said.

The Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization
legislation at this point is still a work in progress and there is no deadline
set for when it will be completed.