Today, the National Marine Fisheries Service published in the Federal Register its proposed rulemaking on how the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the nation's preeminent environmental law, applies to federal ocean fisheries management.
“Through this rule, fishery managers seek to short circuit the process by limiting the environmental review of alternative fishing activities and narrowing opportunities for public participation. This proposal could strip key protections from our oceans and establish a bad precedent for applying NEPA to other federal actions.
“The proposed rule vests too much authority in the regional fishery councils, which have a long history of poor management. It also provides too little guidance on how NEPA can be used to evaluate and minimize fishing's impacts on the marine ecosystem.
“With today's decision, the Bush administration missed a chance to enhance its ocean legacy. We ask the administration to correct the significant problems with this decision before the rule is finalized.”