NMFS, Fisheries Could be in “Chaos” from White House Order


House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva and Water, Power, and Oceans Subcommittee Ranking Member Jared Huffman, in a letter sent to president Trump, wrote that the executive order directing federal agencies to repeal two regulations for every new one will prevent NMFS from opening or closing commercial and recreational fishing seasons in federal waters; making in-season adjustments to conservation and management measures; or implementing new or revised fishery management plans without first seeking a waiver from the Trump administration.

“All fisheries that take place in federal waters require regulatory action to open and close season, set catch limits, modify conservation and management measures, or adjust participation eligibility requirements,” the letter said. “In many cases, multiple regulations must be enacted each year for a single fishery and that is a good thing – American fishermen depend on active, science-based management to ensure that their individual operations and their industry are economically and environmentally sustainable.”

The congressmen wrote, “This order coupled with your earlier action to implement a regulatory freeze, could have devastating impacts on commercial and recreational fisheries and the businesses and communities they support.” Huffman later said, “If we now must eliminate two regulations every time a fishery is managed, there will be complete chaos.”

“We are all striving for smarter, straightforward regulations but that needs to be done through a targeted and strategic process,” Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association Executive Director Ben Martens. “Having to arbitrarily negate two regulations in order to change management rules is not cost-effective nor is it simple. Rather than solve an issue, this order will hinder and complicate an already complex process for our nation’s fishermen. New regulations do not prohibit fishermen from doing their jobs; instead, they often put new science on the water and make it easier for fishermen to make a living. We should not be slowing this process further but instead finding faster ways to get science and streamlined regulations on the water. While the president’s new order seeks to simplify, in reality, it may unintentionally hinder progress on the water and for our fishing businesses.”