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NOAA Fisheries Modernization
The Fiscal Year 2002 budget request for National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) totals $734.2 million, including $598.0 million for research and management programs and $136.2 million in associated funding. The requested funding provides important new enhancements critical to the long-term stewardship of the Nation's living marine resources, including $60.1 million in new resources for the NOAA Fisheries Modernization Initiative and $36.8 million for investments in People and Infrastructure.
The NOAA Fisheries Modernization Initiative represents a commitment to improve the agency's structure, processes, and business approaches. NOAA Fisheries must take a fresh approach to meet its living marine resource stewardship mandates and ensure that these resources continue to contribute the maximum commercial, recreational, cultural, and ecological benefits to the Nation. To meet this goal, NOAA Fisheries proposes significant new programmatic investments to modernize its research, management, and enforcement programs.
Modernizing Science and Research Programs. An increase of $35.1 million is requested to modernize research capabilities. As NOAA Fisheries implements measures to rebuild and sustain marine fisheries, conserve essential fish habitat, reduce bycatch, and address the economic impacts of management decisions on fishing communities, the demands on current scientific resources are enormous. The collection of comprehensive biological data on an increasing number of species and the environmental factors that influence their health and abundance is essential for the sustainable use of living marine resources. The request includes a sizable increase to expand stock surveys to more adequately assess fish stocks around the country, specifically Pacific highly migratory stocks. Funds are included to support the Fisheries and the Environment or "FATE" program designed to improve stock predictions by determining the effects of decadal-scale climate variability on those stocks. Total funding for cooperative research programs with industry is $16.0 million, an increase of $0.5 million specifically for Southeast programs. Improved consideration of the social and economic impacts of fishery management decisions is critical to the long-term sustainability of living marine resources and the economic health of our coastal communities. The National Fisheries Information System will be an integrated, web-enabled information system by which fishers, scientists, and managers can collect and exchange information in a timely manner and improve management decisions. An additional $4.0 million is proposed to expand observer programs around the country to monitor catches, bycatch, and discard rates. New research on the impacts of fishing activities on habitat is vital to ensuring that the habitat stocks depend upon are sustained in the long-term. Restoration activities are often needed to repair actions that have reduced the quality or quantity of habitat, and NOAA Fisheries' community-based restoration program seeks to involve local communities in this effort. Increases for the South Florida ecosystem program, environmentally sound aquaculture, and habitat characterization are also requested.
Modernizing to Manage the Future. An additional $15.0 million is requested to modernize NOAA Fisheries' management programs. Foremost, the request includes funding to expand the operations of the eight regional fishery management councils to ensure that they can continue to meet the demands of implementing the Sustainable Fisheries Act. Additional funding is required to implement new Northeast fisheries management measures and help implement cooperative research programs. With the inclusion of essential fish habitat designations in fishery management plans, new funds are needed to conduct consultations with other agencies to ensure that areas important to fish are not impacted. To expand the agency's research activities and improve the implementation of new and innovative recovery measures, additional funds are requested to bolster recovery and conservation programs for right whales, Atlantic salmon, sea turtles, and other marine mammals.
Enforcing the Future. Improving enforcement activities is essential to ensuring that regulations are effective and as a result the stocks are able to provide the long-term benefits of sustained yields. Funding for innovative programs such as community oriented policing and problem-solving and other state and local partnerships is needed. New resources to expand vessel management systems around the country will provide additional, more effective enforcement capabilities by utilizing the latest satellite technologies.
Investing in People and Modernizing Our Infrastructure. The request includes $11.2 million for adjustments-to-base that are critical to preserve and develop our greatest asset - NOAA Fisheries' human capital. Enhancing our scientific understanding of the Nation's living marine resources also requires an investment in the maintenance, repair, and replacement of our laboratories and fisheries research vessels. The request seeks new funding for the operation of the new Santa Cruz, California, and Kodiak, Alaska, labs. An additional $11.7 million is requested for the construction of a new state-of-the-art research facility near Juneau, Alaska, which promises to be a focal point for cooperative marine science partnerships in the North Pacific. Funds are also requested to continue planning for a new fisheries research laboratory in Honolulu, Hawaii. Additional resources are needed for research vessels to repair the Northeast's ALBATROSS IV, upgrade the Gulf of Mexico's GORDON GUNTER, and refit the western Pacific's ADVENTUROUS. Finally, a modest investment is requested to ensure that NOAA Fisheries' computer hardware and software systems can meet today's data management demands.
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