Fisheries Management & Legislative Report

by Tom Fote
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association January 2020 Newsletter)


Report on December Joint Meeting of ASMFC & MAFMC

For a number of reasons, I did not make the Joint ASMFC/MAFMC meeting in Annapolis. I did listen to most of the webinar. It was really frustrating.

Scup: As I pointed out at the August Joint Meeting, I never saw such a crazy proposal with a total disregard for the impact on the recreational sector. Years ago when the scup quota was set up, we were recreational fishing between 26 – 30% of the scup fishery. The majority of the scup fishery was commercial bycatch. That bycatch was in several different commercial fisheries and was destroying the scup fishery. The bycatch was larger than both the directed commercial and recreational fisheries combined. To placate the commercial side and give them incentive to reduce bycatch, the Council through the NMFS proposed reducing the recreational quota by 18%. As usual, I was upset by this proposal. But back in 1996, people told me there would never be any regulations on scup, black sea bass and other recreational fisheries. I said they were wrong and regrettably I was proven right. Here we are in 2019. We are now looking at the fourth or fifth reiteration of surveys to gather recreational information. We keep tweaking the models and trying to get better response rates. In 2007, Dr. John Borman, in his Congressional testimony, pointed out that in order to get good recreational statistics we had to increase the funding from 11 million to 50 million dollars. We are still only spending 11 million dollars a year and think of what 11 million dollars bought 40 years ago compared to now. Though I went to college during the dinosaur days of punch cards, the adage holds true, garbage in garbage out. Here is the proposal. Presently we are at a 50 fish bag limit. Because of the MRIP numbers, we are now fishing above our 18% quota. To stay within the quota, the reduction necessary would have been 58%. In the heat of the discussion at the August meeting, I said we should never have been at 18%, the commercial sector is not harvesting 20% of their quota every year and the bycatch is still high, probably more than the recreational catch. But the most important thing is that we are two times over the threshold, way above the target. The scup stocks are one of the healthiest and NMFS doesn’t see any immediate problem. I stated if they are going to destroy the recreational scup fishery, I will regrettably recommend New Jersey takes this issue to the Secretary of Commerce. Our rationale would be that this change in quota would not impact the stocks at all but have a huge economic impact from Massachusetts to Virginia on the recreational scup fishery. After the MAFMC members were balking at voting on this, NMFS said they had to vote. So they voted to take the 58% reduction with the idea that they would come up with a correction. The correction is to ignore all their charts and graphs and punt. They didn’t admit they were wrong but decided to leave the scup fishery at status quo. NMFS and ASMFC didn’t want to look like fools if this issue went to the Secretary of Commerce.

Black Sea Bass: Again, another species where the catch has been overly restricted by the precautionary measures of the SSC and NMFS. The SSC and NMFS don’t trust their own data. When the science says the quota could be much higher, NMFS says they don’t trust the data. But when the data reduces the recreational catch, NMFS treats that data like the gold standard. There was a great deal of flack about the proposed changes for the recreational sector. There was a huge outcry from the recreational sector to increase the quota for both the recreational and commercial sectors since there is an abundance of black sea bass and an expansion of their range. NMFS thought they were magnanimous in suggesting staying at status quo. No one believes that this was an appropriate solution. I believe we will still go over the quota because of the abundance of black sea bass available. Actual catch in the recreational sector reflects availability, not quota.

Summer Flounder: To refresh your memory, when the new MRIP numbers came out on summer flounder, NMFS told us they were underestimating the size of the stocks for many years. Because of the retrospective analysis, we have been taking larger numbers of summer flounder than has been estimated. In August of 2018, NMFS increased the commercial quota by 49% to reflect the larger biomass. What did they do to the recreational sector? They kept regulations in place that would cause us to underfish our quota. They didn’t trust their own numbers, so they rewarded us with status quo. For the last four years we have been underfishing our quota and 2019 was no different. We are under quota by 24%. I was appalled when one of the staffers treated the underfishing as a non-issue. We all know if the commercial sector underfished by 24%, that would be a huge issue. Why are we treated differently? The commercial fishery spends money to get economic data on the value of the catch and uses that data to convince NMFS to rule in their favor. According to their own Magnusson Stevens Act, NMFS must do an economic study to show the impact of regulatory changes on the recreational sector. Because we never won a lawsuit on the recreational data, NMFS feels secure in just ignoring this requirement. Why??? Because NMFS does not manage fisheries using common sense or to protect anglers. They pretend to protect the fish. What they are really doing is managing to avoid lawsuits that might be filed by NGOs. In the 80’s and 90’s they learned how much money the lawsuits would cost them and they manage to avoid this at all costs. Since the recreational and commercial sector’s NGOs don’t have deep pockets as other NGOs, they also don’t have the same ability to sue as they do.

Bluefish: I was never so disappointed with Council and Commission members as I was when they failed to point out that NMFS has been transferring quota to the commercial sector from the unused recreational quota for years. Tens of millions of pounds of bluefish have been caught by commercial fishermen since the late 90’s using the “so called” unharvested recreational quota. With the new MRIP numbers, it becomes apparent that NMFS should never have been transferring quota for all these years. NMFS, not the fishermen, have gotten us into this situation. But they will not suffer any economic impact. They will not lose any salary for the mistakes they have made. But they will certainly punish the recreational and commercial fishermen for NMFS mistakes. As always, we take it on the chin for their bad data and, once again, the commercial and recreational fishermen are the bad guys because we were overfishing. Understand, fishermen don’t create the regulations. That is the job of NMFS. When they don’t do their job correctly, the fishing industry suffers. In the last few years, NMFS has succeeded in putting many businesses that serve the recreational and commercial communities out of business. Once again, there was absolutely no reference to the economic impact of these new regulations and Magnusson Stevens was totally ignored. For the recreational community, there will be reduction to a 3-fish bag limit, down from 15. For the for-hire sector, the decrease will be from 15 to 5. For the commercial fishery, the reduction will be 18%. No one from NMFS admitted this was their fault and, as always, blamed us for over fishing.

With the party and charter boats and the private boats, there has always been a discussion about whether there should be separate regulations. Years ago, the recreational industry, considering the pros and cons, decided separate regulations would not work. If you do sector separation regulations correctly, they are based on quotas; one for the private and surf and one for the for-hire sector. This would get us fighting among ourselves as we see in the Gulf of Mexico. It would also stifle the growth of the party and charter boat industry. When you set up quotas, you set them up based on historical catch. Often when the availability is low on a species, party and charter boats will fish for something else so their customers need to catch fish. This skews the historical data. When the stocks become abundant and other party and charter boats want to fish on that species, they are confined to the low percentage. If you are not in a separate sector, no one cares if the party and charter boats catch more fish since we are all recreational anglers. That is why we did not create separate sectors with these new regulations. We did not want to play one sector of the community against another. NMFS wouldn’t mind since that would move the heat from them.

Since NMFS followed no rules in creating the new regulations, all the above discussion is moot. Sector separation was never part of the amendment or addendum on bluefish. It has never been used as a tool for bluefish. There is no precedent. And the results followed none of the normal rules. The public had no idea that this would be proposed and so the public was not represented at these decisions. There was no transparency. As always, no questions were accepted through the webinar. The one for-hire sector participant in the audience was always for sector separation without understanding the consequences for the recreational sector at large. There is no way to effectively monitor this and no penalties were built in. This was a travesty of fisheries management and I cannot believe not one of the Commissioners or Council members raised these objections.

The most depressing part is many recreational anglers from Maine to Florida began their fishing for snappers. I am teaching my young great nephews and nieces to fish by catching snappers off my dock. I also teach them we should eat what we catch and at a limit of 3 snappers, do we stop fishing or fish and release. All those piers in Seaside will need to limit the young anglers as they learn to fish. What NMFS has accomplished is to reduce the growth of the recreational sector. The recreational fishery coastwide was down by 24% in 2019. There are plenty of fish but we can’t keep them. The decrease in participation continues to get worse year by year. If you can’t catch a fish to keep, many anglers don’t bother to go fishing. They also don’t bother to teach their children or grandchildren how to fish. The next generation doesn’t learn to be stewards of the resource. We are watching the demise of recreational fishing and the industries that depend on fishing.


There are two letters below. One sent by 9 Governors to the Secretary of Commerce. This letter included Governor Ralph S. Northam Commonwealth of Virginia and Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey asking the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, to vote the State of Virginia out of Compliance. The other is from Chris Oliver saying that the Secretary of Commerce did find Virginia out of Compliance. This is a victory for the fish that forage off menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay.

Nine East Governor’s Letter on Menhaden Including Governor Murphy

December 13, 2019 The Honorable Wilbur L. Ross Secretary of Commerce 1401 Constitution Ave NW Washington, DC 20230
Secretary Ross,

As you know, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) recently voted to find the Commonwealth of Virginia out of compliance with the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic menhaden. This action was the direct result of Omega Protein Corp. brazenly exceeding the Chesapeake Bay harvest quota by more than 35 million pounds. The vote was unanimous and as governors of the states that collectively made this recommendation to you through ASMFC, we urge you to uphold the integrity of this important body and its legitimate science-based management process by imposing a moratorium on this industrial menhaden reduction fishery in Virginia waters, as Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has already requested.

The science is clear that the Chesapeake Bay is a key feeding and nursery area for migratory species like striped bass, bluefish, seatrout, drum, and others that are recreationally and commercially important to states up and down the Atlantic coast. The science is also clear that Atlantic menhaden are a critical part of the diet of these fish species as well as seabirds, and marine mammals that live in the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean marine ecosystems. Limiting menhaden harvest in Virginia’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay while ASMFC develops ecological reference points to guide future stock assessments and quota setting helps ensure that we minimize unintended consequences to all managed stocks and impacted ecosystems.

The coastal economies of our states depend on healthy ecosystems to support recreational and commercial fisheries that are worth tens of billions of dollars and responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs according to NOAA’s Fisheries Economics of the United States report.

Allowing any one company to jeopardize that balance is simply unacceptable. We urge you to bring Omega back in line with American fishery management standards by imposing a moratorium on their fishing operations in Virginia.

Governor Ned Lamont
State of Connecticut
Governor John C. Carney
State of Delaware
Governor Janet T. Mills
State of Maine
Governor Larry Hogan
State of Maryland
Governor Charlie Baker
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Governor Gina M. Raimondo
State of Rhode Island
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
State of New York
Governor John C. Carney
State of Delaware
Governor Ralph S. Northam
Commonwealth of Virginia

Letter Informing ASMFC that Secretary of Commerce has Declared Virginia out of Compliance

United States Department of Commerce - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - National Marine Fisheries Service
December 17 Mr. Robert Beal Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission 1050 N. Highland St. Suite 200-A Arlington, VA 22201
Dear Mr. Beal,

I wanted to keep you informed on the status of the Commonwealth of Virginia's non-compliance with the Atlantic menhaden Interstate Fishery Management Plan (ISFMP). In accordance with the delegation of authority under the provisions of the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act (Atlantic Coastal Act), 16 U.S.C. 5101 et seq., from the Secretary, NOAA's Fisheries Service completed its independent review of the Commissions determination and concurs with the Commission that the Commonwealth of Virginia is not in compliance with the ISFMP.

Specifically, Virginia has not implemented a Chesapeake Bay Reduction Fishery cap of 5 1 ,000 mt. as per the ISFMP. NOAA Fisheries also finds that this management measure is necessary for the conservation of the menhaden resource. The best available information shows that menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay are an important component of the overall health of the stock, and further that their role as forage for predator species in the Chesapeake Bay is critical to the marine environment.

I have notified the Commonwealth of Virginia of the finding by letter (enclosed). A moratorium on fishing for Atlantic menhaden in Virginia state waters and possession of and landing of Atlantic menhaden if harvested in Virginia state waters will be imposed effective June 1 7, 2020.

We chose the June implementation date after consulting with relevant staff from Virginia, and reviewing the facts of this situation. Based upon our analysis, we found that a June 2020 implementation date is appropriate for two principal reasons. First, a June closure date will give Virginia the time necessary for its legislature to bring these regulations back into compliance. Second, although the involved measure is necessary for conservation, the immediacy of that need is less critical given the 2020 fishing season will not begin until spring 2020 and the 51 ,000 mt Bay cap has never been reached, or even come close to being reached by mid-June.

Virginia has not protested this finding of non-compliance. In our communication with the Commonwealth, they have indicated that they intend to work with the legislature to implement the required management measure as soon as practicable. Virginia has been very cooperative and forthcoming with their intent during the determination period. I encourage the Commission to continue to monitor Virginia's process to implement the Chesapeake Bay Reduction Fishery.

If the Commonwealth of Virginia does enact such a measure, and the Commission determines that the measure is compliant with the ISFMP, under the Atlantic Coastal Act, the Commission would immediately notify the Secretary that the Commonwealth of Virginia is in compliance with the ISFMP. If NOAA Fisheries Service concurs, the moratorium in the state waters of Virginia will be rescinded.

Please contact Alan Risenhoover, Director of the Office of Sustainable Fisheries, if you need additional information. He can be reached at 301-427-8500, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, or

Sincerely, Chris Oliver Assistant Administrator for Fisheries
ASMFC Winter Meeting Preliminary Agenda

The agenda is subject to change. Bulleted items represent the anticipated major issues to be discussed or acted upon at the meeting. The final agenda will include additional items and may revise the bulleted items provided below. The agenda reflects the current estimate of time required for scheduled Board meetings. The Commission may adjust this agenda in accordance with the actual duration of Board meetings. Interested parties should anticipate Boards starting earlier or later than indicated herein.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020 9:30 - 11:00 am Atlantic Herring Management Board
  • Consider Approval of Draft Addendum III for Public Comment
  • Technical Committee Review of Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site
  • Review and Set Atlantic Herring Fishery Specifications for 2020 Season
11:15am - 3:00 pm Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board (lunch will be provided)
  • Review and Consider State Implementation Plans and Conservation Equivalency Proposals
3:15 - 4:00 pm Coastal Sharks Management Board
  • Update on Implementation of CITES Appendix ll Provisions for Atlantic Shortfin Mako
  • Update on Atlantic Shortfin Mako from November International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas Meeting (if available)
4:15 - 5:00 pm Bluefish Management Board
  • Review and Consider Approval of Conservation Equivalency Proposals
Wednesday, February 5, 2020 8:30 am - Noon Atlantic Menhaden Management Brd.
  • Review 2019 Atlantic Menhaden Single-Species and Ecological Reference Point Benchmark Stock Assessments and Peer Review Panel Reports, and Consider Approval for Management Use
  • Consider Management Response to Benchmark Stock Assessments
1:00 - 5:00 pm South Atlantic State/Federal Fisheries Management Board
  • Consider Atlantic Croaker Addendum lll and Spot Addendum ll for Final Approval
  • Consider Management Action to Align State and Federal Management of Spanish Mackerel
  • Review SEDAR 58 Cobia Benchmark Stock Assessment and Peer Review Reports and Consider Approval for Management Use
    • Consider Management Response to SEDAR 58 Cobia Assessment Results
  • Consider Initiation of Red Drum Stock Assessment and Draft Terms of Reference
Thursday, February 6, 2020 8:00 - 10:00 am Executive Committee
  • Discuss Potential Allocation of Remaining Plus-Up Funds
  • Update on Future Annual Meetings
10:15 am - 12:15 pm Interstate Fisheries Management Program Policy Board
  • Executive Committee Report
  • Review and Discuss Commissioner Survey Results
  • Progress Update on American Shad and American Lobster Benchmark Stock Assessments
  • Review and Consider Revisions to Stock Status Definitions
  • Discuss Strategy to Incorporate Ecosystem Management into the Interstate Fisheries Management Process
12:15 - 12:30 pm Business Session
  • Consider Noncompliance Recommendations
Council and Commission Recommend Recreational Bluefish Management Measures for 2020
MAFMC Press Release, 12/17/2019

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Last week, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) recommended and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) approved new recreational fishing regulations for the 2020 Atlantic bluefish fishery from Florida to Maine. These measures, which include a 3-fish bag limit for private anglers and shore-based fishermen and a 5-fish bag limit for for-hire fishermen, represent a substantial reduction compared to the federal 15-fish bag limit that has been in place since 2000. The Commission’s actions are final and apply to state waters (0-3 miles from shore), while the Council will forward its recommendation for federal waters (3 – 200 miles from shore) to the NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Administrator for final approval.

The most recent operational assessment of the Atlantic bluefish stock concluded that the stock is overfished but not experiencing overfishing. During their joint meeting in October, the Council and Commission adopted a recreational harvest limit (RHL) of 9.48 million pounds for 2020 and 2021, which is an 18% decrease compared to the 2019 RHL. Using the current regulations, the recreational sector is projected to land 13.27 million pounds, which will exceed the RHL by 28.56%. Therefore, the Council and Commission met last week to approve new recreational management measures to constrain harvest to the reduced RHL.

The Council and Commission considered several combinations of bag limits and minimum size limits, including options to set a single set of regulations for all fishing modes or different regulations for shore/private modes and the for-hire mode. Although the Council’s Bluefish Monitoring Committee recommended a coastwide 3-fish bag limit, the majority of comments from the public and Bluefish Advisory Panel (AP) members expressed opposition to this option, noting that it would have severe economic consequences for the for-hire sector, which was only responsible for 3.6% of coastwide landings from 2016 to 2018. Additionally, AP members and the public emphasized that these proposed reductions come at a challenging time for for-hire stakeholders as they are also facing new restrictions on striped bass, black sea bass, summer flounder, and scup.

After an extensive discussion and thorough consideration of public comments, the Council recommended and Commission approved a 3-fish bag limit for private and shore modes and a 5-fish bag limit for the for-hire mode. No restrictions were made to minimum fish size or seasons.

“For many years, bluefish has been one of our most abundant recreational fisheries,” said Council Chairman and ASMFC Board member Mike Luisi. “The Council and Commission are fully committed to the effective conservation and management of this stock, but we also recognize that a sudden change in regulations could have severe socioeconomic consequences for some stakeholders. After evaluating a wide range of options and considering numerous comments from the public, we feel that this approach is the most fair and effective way to achieve the necessary reduction in harvest next year.”

The Council and Commission are continuing to work on development of a rebuilding plan as part of the Bluefish Allocation and Rebuilding Amendment. Additional information and updates on this action are available at this link.

History of NOAA

Roy Miller is presently the ASMFC Governor’s Appointee from Delaware but was formerly the Delaware Fish & Wildlife representative to the ASMFC. He is also a past recipient of the David Hart Award. Roy was reading my article from last month’s JCAA Newspaper where I discussed the forming of NOAA and sent me an email that he had found a site that went into the whole background and thankfully shared it with me so I could correct some of what I said in last month’s article. I always want to correct when I make an error, so I went to the site below and read the article. I learned a lot that I did not know, so I want to share this article with you. I always believe that it helps to know the history of how we got to where we are today. This is a long article, so we broke it into two parts. Last month's newsletter contained part 1 and this issue contains part 2 below. For the entire article you can go to the website at this link.

A Century of Conservation (Part 2)
By John A. Guinan and Ralph E. Curtis, 1971

On July 9, 1970, President Nixon proposed Reorganization Plan No. IV which would transfer to the Department of Commerce from the Department of the Interior those functions administered through or primarily related to the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries. Excepted from the proposed transfer were Great Lakes fishery research and activities related to the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission, Missouri River Reservoir research, the Gulf Breeze, Fla., biological laboratory, and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Investigations. These excepted functions remained in Interior with the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife. The Reorganization also transferred to Commerce the functions related to the marine game fish programs which had been the responsibility of the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife. The former Bureau of Commercial Fisheries was renamed the National Marine Fisheries Service and joined several other government units in Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, when the plan became effective October 3, 1970, and a new era in marine fisheries began. History shows that Congress has had a continuing interest in our nation's fisheries. The concern actually predates 1871 because the very first Congress took action to assist the new nation's first industry.

Because the fishing industry was a heavy user of salt, Congress provided relief from the import duty of six cents a bushel on salt by authorizing a payment of five cents for each quintal.

The Second Congress was more direct in support of fisheries by repealing the provision of the five-cent payments and substituting a direct subsidy to both owners and fishermen. Depending on the tonnage of fishing vessels, a subsidy of up to $170 was paid annually, three-eighths to the owners and five-eighths to the fishermen. It is not generally known what $170 would buy in the days of the Second Congress, but we do know that the Secretary of the Treasury, who administered the program, was paid less than $300 per month, and members of Congress received $6 per day.

Since 1871, Congress has given the federal fishery agency a broad mandate to study aquatic resources. Under specific statutes, the NMFS serves as the research agency for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, and the United States Section of the International North Pacific Fisheries Commission. NMFS is heavily committed to management research in support of U.S. obligations and interests under nine international fishery commissions and a number of bilateral agreements. Not only has such research been essential for the wise use of the resources, but in many cases the data have served to protect our interest in, and our access to, the resources.

An example is evident in the research program of the United States under the International Convention for the High Seas Fisheries of the North Pacific Ocean, agreed to by the United States, Canada, and Japan in 1952.

Under the Convention, research in red salmon spawned in the streams and lakes of western Alaska has provided a broad base of scientific data for the North Pacific Convention area. The data include abundance and life history information, migration patterns of various year classes of salmon during their years at sea, and information on the areas and extent that salmon of North American origin and salmon of Asian origin intermingle at sea. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game also has supplied essential elements of red salmon research. Because of the scientific data, and working within the framework of the 1952 Convention, the United States has achieved a high degree of protection for its Alaska red salmon resources. In most years the impact of high seas salmon fishing on Alaska red salmon has been minimized because of the willingness of the Convention signatories to limit fishing effort in critical areas.

Over the past 60 years, the U.S. catch has varied greatly in species composition, due in part to changes in abundance of the various stocks, to the discovery of new resources and processing techniques and to changes in consumer taste preferences. For example, in 1908 shad, sea trout, and carp were among the ten most valuable U.S. fishery products, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the total catch value. In 1970, while still important. these fisheries combined contributed only about one percent of the total catch value. Conversely, in 1908, tuna barely showed in the industry statistics, and shrimp accounted for only about one percent of the total catch.

In more recent years, shrimp has accounted for more than a fifth of the total value of the U.S. fishery catch. In 1970, the preliminary data shows that the total shrimp catch of all species was worth about $130 million to the fishermen--about 23 percent of the total value of the entire U.S. catch. In 1970, tuna landings will show a slight increase over the 323 million pounds for 1969, when the catch was valued at $54 million at dockside. Salmon, oysters, lobsters, crabs, and, until recently, haddock have consistently ranked among our most valuable fisheries through the years since shortly after the turn of the century.

In 1970, according to preliminary information, the total U.S. catch was about 4.8 billion pounds, worth about $570 million to the fishermen. Both the value and volume were up sharply from 1969--in fact, the value was the highest ever paid U.S. fishermen for a one-year catch, and the total volume was the eighth largest on record and the highest since 1962. As recently as 1968, more than 75 percent of our total domestic supply of all fishery products came from imports. In 1969, the import figure dropped to 64 percent, and in 1970 it was about 57 percent. The pattern has developed because of sharply reduced imports of fishmeal.

The total supply of fishery products for human food increased from 5.6 billion pounds in 1969 to 6.3 billion pounds in 1970, reflecting increased demand for quality seafood items. A greater percentage of the total food fish supply was of domestic origin than in the previous two years, even though imports of edible products rose in 1970.

A fish unknown to most Americans accounts for the largest share of our landings. That fish is the menhaden, a herring-like species used primarily for manufacturing fishmeal, an important additive in poultry rations. Of the total U.S. catch of 4.8 billion pounds, nearly 2 billion pounds was menhaden caught along the Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.

The frequent reorganizations and transfers of the federal fishery agency indicate constantly changing conditions, calling for changes in the federal approach to the changing problems. Change appears to be a dominant word in the history of our fisheries. After the old Bureau of Commercial Fisheries became the National Marine Fisheries Service, and other organizations with missions in the atmosphere and the oceans were united in NOAA, Secretary of Commerce Maurice H. Stans issued the following statement:

"The establishment of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the Department of Commerce marks a significant consolidation of research, exploration, development, conservation, monitoring and educational activities as they relate to the oceans and atmosphere. The intelligent use of the oceans, which constitute three-fourths of the entire earth's surface, is vital if we are to strike a proper balance between development and conservation of its vast but surely not unlimited resources. In many respects we are more familiar with the surface of the moon than we are with the ocean depths of our own planet. Until now, in spite of sincere efforts, government has failed to organize itself to meet effectively the challenge and opportunities of operating in an ocean environment. Instead of 23 departments and agencies of government competing for various parts of the Federal mission in the ocean and the atmosphere, we will now have a single agency providing a unified national thrust in delivering on both the promise and potential of this last great frontier on earth."

The Secretary added: "Among the fields in which NOAA will assume Federal civilian leadership will be the mapping and charting of the global oceans and the Great Lakes; ocean fish exploration and conservation; aquaculture development; marine biological research; fish technology and industry services; technology of the air and sea; the monitoring of such geophysical phenomena as pollution, seismicity, climate and geomagnetism; and scientific and technological data collection and dissemination."

The first Director of the new NMFS is Philip M. Roedel of California, who had served for a year as Director of BCF. Mr. Roedel joined the federal service after some 30 years as an internationally known scientist and administrator in the California Department of Fish and Game. His latest state assignment was as Director of the California Marine Fish Program, and he has served as a representative of both the state and federal government at dozens of international conferences and meetings. When NOAA was formed, he said:

"We feel that the creation of NOAA marks the birth of a new era for marine fisheries in the United States. As the National Marine Fisheries Service, our responsibilities are broader than they were as the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries. We now have the responsibility for the total living marine resources including both commercial and recreational interests."

Mr. Roedel added: "We have realigned our internal structure to include our broader responsibilities and to enable us to approach fishery problems in totality rather than on a piecemeal basis. We view NMFS as having a responsibility in two major areas: one dealing with problems relating to the living marine resources; the other with problems that arise after they are caught. It is our feeling that consideration of the resource must come first... because without the resource, there would be neither commercial nor recreational users."

Asked about the basic goal of the National Marine Fisheries Service, Mr. Roedel said that the basic goal is conservation--that is, the wise use of the resource. He said that a strong, sound, biological base is fundamental to the goal. On the occasion of the centennial, Director Roedel said that in years past it was the custom of the federal fishery agency to try to adapt to problems such as split jurisdiction over fisheries matters and institutional barriers placing unrealistic and sometimes prohibitive restrictions on commercial fishing. It is apparent, he said, that this premise has not produced viable solutions to the complex problems. "It is generally agreed that there is a need for strengthening and improving the management of our fisheries, and it is our intention to look at all possibilities of a new federal-state partnership under which we would manage the resource jointly in the best interests of all concerned."

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