Fishermen applaud defunding of wasteful catch shares programme –

Fishermen applaud defunding of wasteful catch shares programme Published:  18 April, 2011

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch, said in Washington DC, on Friday: “Yesterday, in a victory for fishermen on the Atlantic coast, Congress voted to defund a controversial fisheries management programme that has been blocking access to fish for thousands of smaller scale fishermen, destroying their livelihoods and our coastal and fishing communities.

This amendment, offered by Representative Walter Jones of North Carolina, is part of the FY2011 budget, which the president is expected to sign into law today.

“Unfortunately, this unfair programme, known as catch shares, has already begun consolidating the fishing industry on every coast. It is shocking that, while the thousands lost their jobs in the worst recession in decades and the nation debated spending priorities, our government wasted millions to hand our fisheries over to mostly larger-scale, often corporate, industrialised fishing operations.”

“It is an outrage that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – the federal agency tasked with conserving and managing our living marine resources – requested a whopping additional $36 million to fund programmes that would further industrialise our seafood and put even more fishermen out of business.”

“It is our hope that Congress will continue along this sensible path and commit to defunding catch shares in the future and not only in this budget. Our government should listen to the thousands of fishermen who are struggling to make ends meet or have already lost their jobs under this biased program and render it obsolete.”

Carolyn A. Kirk, Mayor of Gloucester, MA, said: “As much as anything, a budget document is also a policy statement. The clear message in the passage of the Jones Amendment is that the US House of Representatives, US Senate, and President have registered their disagreement with catch shares as a national policy.”

A Recreational Fishing Alliance spokesperson said: “Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) activists had spent the third week of February visiting the offices of federal legislators claiming erroneously to represent the interests of U.S. fishing communities while promoting their ‘Catch Share’ manifesto with Members of Congress in an effort to limit overall public access to coastal fisheries.”

Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) added: “This is a shot in the arm for fishermen and a shot across the bow of the National Marine Fisheries Service. The last thing our government should be doing in these economic times is spending millions of taxpayer dollars to expand programs that will put even more Americans out of work.  NMFS would be wise to take heed of the opposition of fishermen, the public and the Congress to their catch shares agenda; we’re not going away.”