The Fisheries Management Reform Act of 2004, introduced to Congress in June, seeks to broaden membership on the fishery management councils to include members of the public, to significantly reduce financial conflicts of interest of those on the councils, and to ensure that political and economic influences do not override conservation decisions on the health of the fish populations. Representative Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia), ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Resources Committee, Representative Sam Farr (D-California), Co-Chair of the House Oceans Caucus, and other members of Congress proposed H.R. 4706 to help eliminate long-standing financial conflicts of interest, unbalanced representation and poor conservation decisions in the fisheries-management system. The Fisheries Management Reform Act of 2004 comes on the heels of appointments by the National Marine Fisheries Service to the eight regional fishery management councils. With this year’s appointments, 58 out of 71 council positions are held by either commercial or recreational fishermen, many of whom profit from fishing-related businesses in their regions. Currently, council members simultaneously decide which scientific information to put into practice to conserve fish populations and how to allocate these natural resources to fishermen for economic gain.
Write your Congressman in support of the Fisheries Management Reform Act of 2004. Visit www.freedomtofish.org to find contact information for your Congressman.