Frustrations Mount Over NOAA Failures


The Center for Sportfishing Policy, an organization formed in 2006 to advance issues related to marine conservation, recreational fishing and boating, and public access to the nation’s coastal resources, issued the following statement regarding NOAA’s recent decisions.

Earlier this month, NOAA announced it is unilaterally implementing a single-day season for recreational South Atlantic red snapper fishing in 2024. This decision was made contrary to the wishes of the South Atlantic Regional Fishery Management Council and despite the largest biomass of the stock in recorded history. NOAA quickly followed their baseless decision and unpopular announcement with additional threats of more unilateral actions by the Commerce Secretary via a fishery management plan likely to seek bottom closures to all fishing of any kind. NOAA is supposed to be America’s science agency. But as long as NOAA is content to use its discredited data system and highly questionable discard data, it can apparently make up any regulation it wants in response to a crisis that doesn’t exist. For whatever reason, NOAA seems intent on limiting public access to an abundant natural resource. Anglers should be extremely worried where this is heading.

NOAA Administrator Dr. Richard Spinrad also faced criticism during a recent House Science, Space and Technology Committee Hearing over their proposed expansion of the North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction rule. Lawmakers questioned the agency’s failure to consult stakeholders, specifically the recreational fishing community; how the rule would be enforced, and agency plans to protect large whales without devastating coastal economies.

Both cases highlight NOAA’s contentious decision-making, disregarding scientific rigor, accepted process and stakeholder input.

Meanwhile, this week is focused on the Water, Wildlife & Fisheries legislative hearing June 27 where several bills related to NOAA will be discussed. These include HR 8705 by Rep. Garret Graves, urging NOAA to modernize the data used by NOAA for better fisheries management and Rep. Buddy Carter’s HR 8704 to require the Commerce Secretary to establish a grant program to foster enhanced coexistence between ocean users and the North Atlantic right whale. Also on the agenda are the Modernizing Access to Our Public Oceans (MAPOceans) Act and Resilient Coasts and Estuaries Act. Thanks to the Natural Resources Committee for leading efforts on these important matters.

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