Jones Helps Stop Fed’s Proposed NC Fishing Closure
Congressman Walter Jones
3rd District of North Carolina
25. February 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) has successfully worked to stop a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) proposal that would have closed federal waters off Dare County to pelagic long-line fishing in order to better protect dusky sharks. Roughly a dozen fishing vessels based in Dare County operate in this fishery. They would have been significantly affected, if not put out of business, by NMFS’ initiative. The North Carolina closure was included in a broader suite of management measures – Amendment 5 to the Highly Migratory Species Management Plan – that was scheduled to be implemented this April to protect several species of Atlantic sharks, including duskies, blacknose, and scalloped hammerheads.
Over the past several weeks, Congressman Jones joined North Carolina fishermen and the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) in asking NMFS to share the dusky shark data the agency used to justify the closure. The group also asked for a 45-day extension of the public comment period – which closed February 12, 2013 – so that the requested data could be examined and alternatives considered. NMFS denied both requests citing restrictions in the Magnuson-Stevens Act – the federal law that regulates fishing in U.S. waters. Congressman Jones, fishermen and NCDMF then asked NMFS to consider moving the management actions related to scalloped hammerhead and other shark species now, and to pull back the dusky shark measures – including the North Carolina closure – for further examination. The agency agreed to do so in an announcement made last week.
“I’d like to thank the staff at NMFS for working with us,” said Congressman Jones. “Fishermen and scientists at the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries have raised significant concerns with the scientific justifications for, and the economic impacts of, the agency’s dusky proposal. With much at stake, it’s very important to slow down and get it right rather than rush to implement a flawed plan.”
Source: On-line office for Congressman Walter Jones
Letter to Administrator Rauch on HMS Amendment 5