The Fisheries Investment Act: Investing in the South Atlantic's Fisheries and Fishermen
The Fisheries Investment Act (FIA) is new legislation that would re-direct existing revenues from duties on imported fish products (estimated at $124 million for FY 2013) to support critical research, monitoring, and management programs, as well as provide assistance to fishermen and fishing communities.
This bill would create a regionally-based grant program that would direct 70 percent of the money (approximately $85 million in FY 2013) per year to fund fisheries research and management programs. The councils would establish investment committees responsible for identifying funding priorities and making recommendations on which specific projects should be supported in each region.
Fisheries management should be about building bridges between the fishing communities and fisheries managers—this bill will help build such bridges.Don DeMaria, commercial fisherman, Summerland Key, FL
Stronger South Atlantic fisheries and fishing communities
The sheer diversity of fish in the South Atlantic region has attracted commercial fishermen and anglers alike for decades. Many of these species are long-lived and late to reproduce, making them vulnerable to overfishing. Managers need timely information to help manage fishing so that populations remain healthy for the long-term and fishermen have plenty to catch. Funding through FIA could help restore the South Atlantic's fish and fisheries by addressing these critical needs:
In addition to the regional grant program, the secretary of commerce (who oversees NOAA) may use the remainder of the funds for special fisheries needs and problems, including management of highly migratory species, seafood promotion, fisheries disasters, and no more than 10 percent for general NOAA operations.
This bill would restore the original intent of a law designed to invest directly in U.S. fisheries through revenues from duties on fish products. Since 1979, the majority of these funds have been diverted into the general operating account of NOAA. By directing these funds back to their original fishery management purposes, the FIA would bolster our nation's commercial and recreational fisheries, which support an estimated 1 million jobs. This bill makes good economic and environmental sense.