This bill would help by redirecting existing funding into the hands of local managers and fishermen so they can support the science necessary to make sound decisions that will increase fishing time, improve businesses, and ensure sustainable fisheries.Michael Miglini, executive director, Charter Fisherman's Association
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 regional 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.
The Gulf of Mexico is home to historic fishing communities and some of the nation's most iconic and valuable fisheries. The region is still recovering from (and understanding) the impacts of the 2010 oil spill, as well as decades of overfishing that have depleted some of the region's most important fish stocks. Funding through FIRRA could help restore the Gulf'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.