Fisheries Management & Legislative Report

by Tom Fote
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association February 2018 Newsletter)


Proposal to Open Atlantic to Drilling

Why is it that every new President, Democrat or Republican, they talk about opening the Atlantic Ocean for drilling? This is a bi-partisan issue. President Obama and now President Trump have both proposed opening the Atlantic coast to drilling. But President Trump’s proposal would also open several sanctuary areas on the West coast as well. If you read the JCAA Newspapers past articles on offshore drilling, you will see that we have been unanimous in our opposition. What I have included in this edition is information about the upcoming hearing on February 14 and three letters; one bi-partisan letter from all of NJ’s Congressional delegation, one from Governor Christie and then Governor-elect Murphy and Senators Menendez and Booker, and finally a letter from 37 Senators all agreeing in their opposition. Again, this is bi-partisan. We need for all of you to show up at the hearing on the 14th. I hope to see you there.

New Leadership at GARFO

Mr. Michael Pentony is the new Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office. I have worked with Mike for the last eight years. He has listened to our concerns and appears to understand our issues. It took John Bullard a long time to understand recreational fishing. At the last Commission meeting he had some important votes for the recreational sector. Mike has been there through this transition. Along with all the members of JCAA, I look forward to working with him. His bio is included in the press release below. I will be attending NOAA’s Recreational Summit in March in Arlington, VA and I am looking forward to Mike’s participation and meeting the new director of NMFS.

ASMFC Winter Meeting Week

Here is a partial agenda. To get the full agenda and how to get on webinar go to the ASMFC Webpage. There are many important topics coming up at this meeting. You should get on the webinar for any species of interest and learn about the process. You will not hear my voice at this meeting because I had a prior commitment, but Russ Allen will be my proxy. I will be listening on the webinar with many of you. All the background material for the meeting will be posted the week before. But some other materials may be shown on that day. If you listen to the webinar and have any comments, please email me and let me know how you feel. You should also email the Commission Chairman and the Executive Director.

Tuesday, February 6

2:15 - 4:15pm: Winter Flounder Management Board

Wednesday, February 7

11:30am - 12:15pm: Weakfish Management Board

3:00-4:30pm: Atlantic Striped Bass Management Bd.

  • Review and Consider Maryland Conservation Equivalency Proposal
  • Update on Process and Timeline Regarding Board Guidance on Benchmark Stock Assessment

Thursday, February 8

10:15am - 1:15pm: Interstate Fisheries Management Program Policy Board

  • Consider the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Atlantic Menhaden Amendment 3 Appeal
  • Consider Approval of Climate Change and Fisheries Management Policy
  • Review Shad Benchmark Stock Assessment Timeline and Consider Terms of Reference
  • Habitat Committee Report
  • NOAA Fisheries Overview of Right Whale Issue

1:15 - 1:30pm: Business Session

1:45 - 2:45pm: Atlantic Menhaden Management Bd.

  • Consider ISFMP Policy Board Recommendation Regarding the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Atlantic Menhaden Amendment 3 Appeal (if necessary)

3:00 - 5:00pm: Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management Board

  • Consider Black Sea Bass Addendum XXX for Final Approval
  • Finalize Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Recreational Measures

NOAA Names Michael Pentony to Lead Greater Atlantic Region
NOAA Fisheries, 1/11/2018

NOAA Fisheries announced that Mr. Michael Pentony is the new Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He will assume his new duties on January 22, 2018. Mr. Pentony has been with the agency since 2002, serving in a series of positions including as the Assistant Regional Administrator for the Sustainable Fisheries Division since 2014. He succeeds retiring Regional Administrator John Bullard who had been in the position since 2012.

“I am extremely pleased to announce this appointment,” said NOAA Fisheries’ director Chris Oliver. “Michael’s deep experience in every aspect of sustainable fisheries management, both commercial and recreational, positions him perfectly for this job. He is going to hit the ground running.”

In his new role, Mr. Pentony will head the agency’s regional office, which has responsibility for managing approximately 100,000 square miles of the Northwest Atlantic, the large marine ecosystem from Maine to Cape Hatteras and the Great Lakes. To do that, the office works closely with two fishery management councils, the states, the fishing industry, and other stakeholders to manage federal commercial and recreational fisheries, marine mammals, habitat, and much more. As Administrator, he will also oversee critical aspects of international fisheries conservation and management in the region.

Mr. Pentony has extensive experience leading the development and implementation of the fishery management plans and regulations established by the Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. In his role as the region’s lead for sustainable fisheries management, he oversaw all aspects of 14 management plans targeting 42 species valued at nearly $1.6 billion annually. Prior to taking the Assistant Regional Administrator position in 2014, Mr. Pentony served for 12 years as a team supervisor in the sustainable fisheries division.

“Under Michael’s leadership, the region’s sustainable fisheries team worked hard to meet the needs of fishermen and fishing communities from Maine to North Carolina. In doing so, they have implemented successful, innovative approaches to protecting and restoring stocks, habitat, and marine mammals. They also paved the way for an expansion of the aquaculture industry in the region by working hard to break through barriers to that industry,” said Oliver.

Before joining NOAA Fisheries in 2002, Mr. Pentony worked for five years as a policy analyst for the New England Fishery Management Council, primarily on issues related to habitat, marine protected areas, and the deep-sea red crab fishery.

He has a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Duke University in North Carolina, and a Master’s of Environmental Management from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. Between college and graduate school, Mr. Pentony served for six years as an officer in the United States Air Force as an engineering project manager on a variety of military satellite and launch vehicle programs.

Michael grew up in the town of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, where he spent his summers fishing for bluefish and fluke at the Manasquan Inlet. He currently lives in New Hampshire with his family including his wife and daughter. In his free time he enjoys traveling with his family, cheering on his daughter at swim meets, cycling the back roads of New Hampshire, and trying to learn to play the bass guitar.

Public Hearings in your State on Offshore Oil Drilling

The Trump Administration has offered up oil drilling sites as close as three miles offshore of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Offshore oil drilling puts our coastal economy, environment, and way of life at risk.

The Administration is holding a series of public hearings, see details below. We need people to show up and tell the Administration, our elected officials, and the media that we don't want this!

You can attend the hearings any time from 3-7PM - it's more like an open house to express concerns about offshore oil drilling. In many states we will be holding rallies at these hearings, see Facebook events for details. Learn more about the proposed drilling program here.

New Jersey - February 14 in Trenton Hilton Garden Inn: 800 US Highway 130, Hamilton, NJ 08690 Facebook Link New York - February 15 in Albany Hilton Albany: 40 Lodge Street, 12207 Facebook Link Washington DC - February 22 Hilton Garden Inn: 1225 First Street NE, 20002 Facebook Link
NJ Congressional Delegation Letter on Off-Shore Drilling
Congress of United States January I1, 2018 The Honorable Ryan Zinke Secretary United States Department of the Interior 1849 C Street NW Washington, DC 20240
Dear Secretary Zinke;

In light of the recent release of the 2019-2014 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program, we write to extend an invitation to you to personally visit New Jersey and meet with some of the people who would be most impacted by the plan. Given your recent meeting with Florida Governor Rick Scott, after which you decided to exclude Florida's coasts from any offshore drilling, we believe that New Jersey also deserves the courtesy of a Secretarial visit. We also request that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management consider holding a public hearing in New Jersey, in addition to the public meeting scheduled in Trenton, and that you consider doing so in a coastal community.

New Jersey's coastal economy is one of the primary drivers ofjob creation and economic growth in our State. In 2016, New Jersey's tourism industry generated over $44 billion, directly supported over 321,000 jobs, and indirectly supported more than 517,000 jobs—a total of nearly 10% of the state's workforce. Beyond our workforce, the homes and businesses that make up New Jersey's shore communities are valued at nearly $800 billion.

Also critical to the state's economic health is a thriving fishing industry. In 2015, New Jersey's commercial seafood industry supported over 31,000 jobs. We are also home to one of the largest saltwater recreational fishing industries in the nation, which supports over 16,000 jobs and generates nearly $1.5 billion in statewide economic impacts.

Drilling off the coast of New Jersey puts each of these critical economic drivers at risk, and for that reason, we strongly oppose the recently-issued Draft Proposed Plan. Our concerns are shared by generations of New Jersey families who have lived and vacationed along our pristine shores; by fishers whose livelihoods depend on clean coastal waters; and by the small businesses that rely on tourism to earn a family wage and to create jobs.

We invite you to personally visit New Jersey prior to the issuance of the Proposed Program, to leam firsthand about how offshore drilling would harm our communities and our economy. We would be happy to facilitate such a visit and connect you with the individuals who have the most to lose in the event of an oil spill. Many of these individuals are still working to rebuild after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, and cannot afford the risk of another disaster in the form of an oil spill.

Robert Menendez United States Senator, Corey A. Booker United States Senator, Congressman Frank Pallone, Congressman Christopher Smith, Congressman Albio Sires, Congressman Frank LoBiondo, Congressman Donald Payne, Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr, Congressman Leonard Lance, Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, Congressman David Norcross, Congressman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Congressman Josh Gottheimer, Congressman Tom MacArthur
NJ Senators, Governor, & Governor-Elect Letter on Off-Shore Drilling
January 14, 2018 The Honorable Ryan Zinke Secretary United States Department of Interior 1849 C Street NW Washington, DC 20240
Dear Secretary Zinke:

We write in regard to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which as you know is currently working under the approved 2017-2022 Five-Year Program. Following Executive Order 13795 and Secretarial Order 3350, BOEM initiated a new proposed Five-Year Program from 2019-2024 that proposes oil and gas lease sales in 25 of the 26 OCS planning areas and calls for nine lease sales in the Atlantic Ocean, including two in the North Atlantic. We write in strong opposition to any proposal that includes oil and gas drilling off the coast of New Jersey, which puts at risk the strength of New Jersey’s economy and the health of the state’s unique marine ecosystem.

The Jersey shore is our pride and joy, and as such has long enjoyed protection from oil and gas development by residents, stakeholders, and elected officials – Republicans and Democrats alike – for decades. The Obama Administration’s proposal to include the Mid-Atlantic for oil and gas lease sales when developing the current Five-Year Program was met with strong bipartisan opposition simply because of the Mid-Atlantic’s proximity to New Jersey. This new proposed program now directly opens all offshore waters along New Jersey’s 130 miles of coastline through its proposal to pursue two lease sales in the North Atlantic. Oil spills do not respect state borders which means drilling anywhere off the Atlantic Coast puts New Jersey’s shore in danger.

Each year our state’s coastal economy generates millions of dollars in revenue, and provides hundreds of thousands of jobs in industries that depend on protecting New Jersey’s picturesque beaches and coastal environment. As you have already heard from New Jersey stakeholders and elected officials since the announcement of the proposed plan last week, New Jersey’s boating, commercial, and recreational fishing industries are critical components of the state’s economy. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, our seafood industry cannot afford the possibility of another disaster like an oil spill that would threaten their livelihoods.

Earlier this week, you determined that because Florida’s coasts rely heavily on tourism as an economic driver, Florida’s offshore waters would be removed from consideration under the new proposed program. We agree with your assessment that drilling for oil and gas offshore could negatively impact a coastal state’s tourism industry, and New Jersey is no exception to that rule. The New Jersey tourism industry accounts for one out of 10 jobs in the state’s workforce, and this industry has continued to grow year after year. Iconic shore destinations from Asbury Park to Cape May attract visitors from the across world and deserve to be protected.

You have said that your responsibility to evaluate our nation’s offshore oil and gas leasing plan will emphasize the consideration of local and state voices. We write to demonstrate that when it comes to protecting New Jersey’s coast, New Jersey speaks with one voice, united in opposition to allowing drilling off our shores. It is for these reasons that we urge you to immediately withdraw consideration of the Atlantic from the Five-Year Program, and echo the calls from our colleagues in New Jersey and across the country for you to visit coastal communities for a firsthand account of how devastating the impacts of expanded offshore drilling would be to coastal states’ economies.

Sincerely, Senator Robert Menendez Senator Cory Booker Governor Chris Christie Governor-Elect Phil Murphy
Letter from 37 Senators on Offshore Drilling
The Honorable Ryan Zinke Secretary United States Department of the Interior 1849 C Street NW Washington, DC 20240
Dear Secretary Zinke:

We write in strong opposition to your agency's misuse of taxpayer funds and agency resources to issue a draft 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program in the middle of the current 2017-2022 Five-year Plan. This draft proposal is an ill-advised effort to circumvent public and scientific input, and we object to sacrificing public trust, community safety, and economic security for the interests of the oil industry. We urge you to abandon this effort and maintain the protections outlined in the current 2017-2022 plan.

During your confirmation hearings, you pledged to incorporate local input into the management of our nation's public lands, Our constituents, scientific bodies, businesses, and local elected officials have already decidedly rejected efforts to expand offshore drilling that could compromise ecosystems, tourism and recreation, public safety, and marine industries. The governors of New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon, Washington, and the Attorney General of Rhode Island all are formally opposed to new leasing off their respective shores. Additionally, more than 150 municipalities on the East Coast, West Coast, and Gulf of Mexico have passed resolutions opposing offshore oil and gas drilling and exploration. The New England, Mid-Atlantic, and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils, the Department of Defense, Air Force, and NASA have all weighed in expressing serious concerns or opposition to offshore exploration and drilling. More than 41,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families have also expressed opposition to drilling in their communities.

The current 2017-2022 plan already allows leasing for more than 45 billion barrels of oil, and guarantees protections for vital resources in the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic. The nation's coasts are already bearing the consequences of climate change through rising sea levels, coastal erosion, and increased storm surges and floodinge We should not open all previously closed outer continental shelf areas to fossil fuel extraction and further endanger our climate, coastlines, communities, and economies. Especially in the harsh and fragile Arctic, where your agency has predicted a 75 percent chance of a major oil spill, proposing 19 new leases is the height of irresponsibility.

We are deeply troubled by your decision to open more than 90% of the outer continental shelf to fossil fuel development and needlessly put our coastal residents, businesses, oceans, and climate at grave risk. Offering 47 leases by expanding drilling into the Arctic, Pacific, Atlantic and Eastern Gulf of Mexico waters would lock us into decades of carbon pollution, and endanger future generations and livelihood simply for short-term gain of major oil companies.

We strongly object to this draft proposal, and urge you to maintain protection for the Arctic, Pacific, Atlantic and Eastern Gulf of Mexico and for our communities.

Sincerely, Signed by 37 US Senators Jeffrey Merkley, Robert Menendez, Bill Nelson, Cory Booker, Edward Markey, Seldon Whitehouse, Brian Schatz, Chris Van Hollen, Kirsten Gillibrand, Patty Murray, Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden, Richard Blumenthal, Mazie Hirono, Jack Reed, Patrick Leahy, Richard Durbin, Tammy Duckworth, Sherrod Brown, Thomas Carper, Chris Coons, Margaret Wood Hassan, Charles Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Benjamin Cardin, Kamala Harris, Catherine Cortez Masto, Maria Cantwell, Bernard Sanders, Christopher Murphy, Tammy Baldwin, Tina Smith, Jeanne Shaheen, Debbie Stabenow, Gary Peters, Tm Kaine, Robert Casey