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President's initiatives to protect oceans
and enhance ocean science programs supported


December 21, 2004

Monday, the Marine Conservation Alliance (MCA) and the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) gave their support for President Bush's initiative to protect our oceans and enhance ocean science programs. The President's detailed plan includes a White House advisory committee to oversee the nation's ocean policies as well as a plan to coordinate state and federal agency action and fund ocean research.

"The U. S. Commission on Ocean Policy asked the president for quick, decisive action to prioritize and coordinate a new course for the nation in protecting our oceans. And that's what they got. Further, we applaud the administrations commitment to continue to work toward ecosystem-based decision making related to water, land and resource management in ways that do not erode local, regional and State authorities and are flexible to address local conditions," said Donna Parker, President of the Marine Conservation Alliance. "We look forward to working with the Administration and members of Congress on measures to protect our oceans and coastline for future generations".

"The President has shown important leadership with his announcement. We are very pleased to hear the Administration voicing support for market based solutions to conservation issues" said John Connelly, President of the National Fisheries Institute. "The President's plan also emphasizes working with states and the private sector in a flexible manner to address local conditions. That, and the recognition of the economic importance of ocean industries is very encouraging".

The health of the oceans has been the subject of several major studies culminating in the report by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy (USCOP). Both NFI and MCA are encouraged by the direction of the USCOP recommendations and the Presidents response. NFI and MCA support

  • moving deliberatively towards a science driven ecosystem-based approach to management
  • ensuring that scientists set the overall harvest levels for sustainable fisheries, and that fish managers be required to stay within those limits
  • using market based systems to manage fisheries to ensure conservation of fishery resources, and improve the economic health of our nation's fisheries and fishing communities
  • strengthening the nations marine research and science programs to provide information critical for oceans conservation

"We have to move towards an ecosystem-based approach to managing all our resources," said David Benton, Executive Director of the MCA. "That requires solid science-based decision-making which requires research dollars. We hope that will be forthcoming," said David Benton, Executive Director of the MCA. "It's not a question of whether or not to do it; it's simply a matter of doing it right".

Benton praised the administration for announcement of development and implementation of an Ocean Research Priorities Plan. "It includes continued development of a high-tech international oceans observation system, coordinated ocean mapping and more than $75 million in ocean exploratory and survey vessels. That seems to demonstrate a strong commitment by this administration to take concrete steps in the right direction," Benton stated.

Terry Leitzell, of Icicle Seafoods also supported the President's actions. Leitzell, former fisheries chief in the Department of Commerce, also stressed the need for more research. "Only twenty-five years ago, the United States began integrated biological and oceanographic research to better understand fish stocks off our coast. Funding for that work needs a significant boost" Leitzell said.

Leitzell is also pleased that the President's Plan stresses regional decisions. "We are pleased that the President is looking at ways to improve the regional fishery management council system". The Regional Fishery Management Councils are established under the Magnuson Stevens Act named after the primary authors, one of whom is Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.

"Senator Steven is a strong supporter of the council system. The North Pacific council in Alaska has a strong record of preventing overfishing and protecting fish habitat" noted Benton. "Our experience shows that the system can work, and work well."



On the Web:

The Marine Conservation Alliance is composed of harvesters, processors, and coastal communities in Alaska. It represents all groundfish and shellfish gear types, and promotes science driven solutions to conservation issues in the North Pacific. The MCA is based in Juneau, Alaska.

The National Fisheries Institute represents people that catch, process, import and sell seafood throughout the United States. NFI's members are committed to providing America's families safe, sustainable, and healthy seafood meals.


Source of News :

Marine Conservation Alliance

National Fisheries Institute


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