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Contact: Susan Buchanan
News Releases 2003
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COMMERCE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES NATIONAL BYCATCH STRATEGY
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) today unveiled its strategy to further reduce bycatch through fishing gear improvements, standardized reporting and education & outreach. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an agency of the Commerce Department.
NOAA Fisheries believes this strategy provides the most efficient and effective plan to achieve further success in reducing bycatch. Last year, the agency received a request from an environmental advocacy group to reduce bycatch through fishery regulations. After considering the request and public comment, NOAA fisheries developed its strategy to achieve significant results in reducing bycatch.
“Minimizing bycatch is one of the most important things we can do to conserve fish and other marine species,” said NOAA Fisheries Director Bill Hogarth. “We are continuing to work with fishermen to find ways to reduce unintentional catches, and this strategy will allow us to renew our commitment to bycatch reduction efforts and update our 1998 strategy.”
The National Bycatch Strategy is based on the 1998 NOAA Fisheries report, Managing the Nation’s Bycatch, which contains the agency’s national bycatch goal, “to implement conservation and management measures for living marine resources that will minimize, to the extent practicable, bycatch and the mortality of bycatch that cannot be avoided.”
Filed today with the Federal Register, the strategy outlines how NOAA Fisheries will improve upon and expand current bycatch reduction efforts and undertake new bycatch initiatives, such as: assessing regional progress toward meeting national bycatch objectives and strategies; developing a national approach that standardizes bycatch reporting; implementing the national bycatch goal through regional implementation plans; expanding international approaches to bycatch reduction; undertaking new education and outreach efforts; and identifying long-term funding requirements. The President’s 2004 budget request includes $2.8 million to augment the agency’s bycatch reduction activities.
Bycatch is a complex problem that affects many major U.S. fisheries. Fisheries managers have long recognized that bycatch reduction could help rebuild overfished stocks and lead to more robust fisheries, and would aid in the protection of marine mammals, sea turtles and seabirds. Through innovative research, strong working partnerships and thoughtful regulation, NOAA Fisheries, along with the regional fishery management councils, fishermen and other stakeholders, has made significant progress in bycatch reduction over the past several years. Examples of accomplishments and ongoing activities include:
Modifying gear to decrease halibut bycatch in the Alaska flatfish and Pacific cod trawl fisheries; and modifying trawls to decrease rockfish bycatch in West Coast sole fisheries;
The National Bycatch Strategy is available on NOAA Fisheries’ bycatch Web site http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/bycatch.htm, which brings together a wide variety of online bycatch resources. Data posted on the Web site include up-to-date regional summaries of bycatch data from observer programs; various reports including an online version of Managing the Nation’s Bycatch; species-specific bycatch regulations and policies; links to research, laws and international activities related to bycatch; and updates on NOAA Fisheries’ progress in implementing its new National Bycatch Strategy.
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation’s living marine resources, and the habitat on which they depend, through scientific research, management and enforcement. We provide effective stewardship of these resources for the benefit of the nation, supporting coastal communities that depend upon them, and helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities for the American public.
NOAA Fisheries: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov
Fisheries’ Bycatch site: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/bycatch.htm