Seafood Harvesters of America, whose membership includes several Pacific Northwest commercial fishing organizations, is raising concerns over a five-year reallocation mandate included in draft reauthorization of federal fisheries legislation.
Chris Brown, president of the organization, said his members feel “that those who want more access to fishery resources should be responsible for sustaining our fishery stocks.
The proposed mandate in question is included in work underway on reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
The organization’s 14 member commercial fisheries groups include Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association, Fishing Vessel Owners Association, United Catcher Boats and the North Pacific Fisheries Association.
Brown said fishing allocations should be based on thorough scientific analysis, as determined by regional fishery management councils, not arbitrary politics.
“Reallocating these resources to recreational users, who do not adhere to the same accountability and data collection requirements as the commercial fishing industry, would be a step backward in ensuring that America-caught seafood makes its way to millions of American consumers,” he said.
Brown said that Southeast Alaska serves as an excellent example of strong accountability and cooperation between recreational and commercial fishermen.
“There, halibut recreational charter and commercial fishermen must report their catches through an effective quota system, which are accounted for in the total allowable catch. So we are calling for a phased in approach for a recreational sport fishery harvest data collection plan in regions where recreational harvest accountability can be improved,” he said.
The Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization legislation at this point is still a work in progress and there is no deadline set for when it will be completed.