Congressional Report Will Help NOAA Fisheries Resolve Overcapitalization

Friday, November 12, 1999
A NOAA-funded independent report analyzing U.S. fishing subsidies should play a strong role in efforts to right-size the U.S. fishing fleet, said NOAA. The report is also expected to assist NOAA Fisheries managers as they develop domestic programs for meeting international plans of action to reduce world fishing capacity. The U.S. is spearheading international efforts to deal with the global problem of "too many fishing boats chasing too few fish." At the same time, NOAA Fisheries managers are seeking tools to help reduce excess fleet capacity in many domestic marine fisheries. "One of the greatest concerns for the future of the world's oceans is overharvesting of marine resources," said Terry D. Garcia, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and chief U.S. negotiator for the international plans of action. "In many cases, fishing subsidies encourage too many boats to enter a fishery and can undermine conservation. We have pushed the international community to address this concern. This report will help us domestically to live up to our international leadership role." The findings of the Federal Fisheries Investment Task Force Report to Congress are expected to help the Congress and the Administration in their reviews of domestic programs that may contribute to overcapacity and overcapitalization. Having too many fishing boats or too many harvest permits in a marine fishery makes it difficult for fishermen to make a living and may impede progress toward realizing a key Magnuson-Stevens Act goal: Reducing and eliminating overfishing in U.S. commercial fisheries. By "right-sizing" the fleet, the number of fishermen will be balanced with the number of fish that can be harvested at sustainable levels. "It's important to remember most fishing subsidies were created to promote development and improve the competitiveness of the U.S. fishing industry," said Penny Dalton, NOAA Fisheries director. "Our programs are considered modest compared to those of many of the world's fishing nations, but they need to be updated to ensure they meet our mandates to build and maintain healthy fisheries and level the playing field for U.S. fishermen."
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