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Monday, May 23, 2022
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Delegate Signs Flexibility in Fisheries Bill

Although fishermen in the Virgin Islands agreed to annual catch limits for multiple species of fish caught in federal waters, Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen wants to give them and fishermen across the country some flexibility, according to spokesman Monique Clendinen Watson.

Christensen signed on to the Flexibility and Access in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2011, which amends the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to extend the authorized time period for rebuilding certain overfished fisheries and to provide more flexibility in administering the regulations.

According to Christensen’s press release, the amendment to the Magnuson-Stevens law, which imposes new catch limits for all United States fisheries in an attempt to preserve and repopulate them, has drawn the ire of fishermen across the country and the territory.

The regulations went into effect this year.

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“While I support conservation efforts and promoting healthy fisheries, in these tough economic times, we need to ensure that we are not placing unnecessary burdens on our fishermen, who are an important part of our economy,” Christensen said.

Carlos Farchette, who serves as chairman of the Caribbean Fishery Management Council, said he was not aware of the bill now working its way through the House of Representatives.

He agreed that some wiggle room was needed but said that fisherman from both the St. Thomas and St. Croix districts worked with the Caribbean Fishery Management Council to set the catch limits.

Farchette confirmed that local fishermen do fish in federal waters, which begin three miles out from the shoreline.

“On St. Croix, they fish Long Bank and St. Thomas has a large fishing area in federal waters,” he said.

Christensen indicated that she brought Virgin Islands fishermen to the nation’s capital to testify on catch limits and that she has testified on their behalf before the Caribbean Fishery Management Council.

The bill was sponsored by New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. Phone calls to his office requesting more information on the bill were not returned.

A press release on his website indicates key provisions in the legislation allow for an extension of the timeframe for rebuilding a fish stock beyond 10 years under certain circumstances; increased transparency in the process for developing annual maximum fishing levels; and requiring fisheries managers to use an improved system of data collection called the Marine Recreational Information Program.

The bill also allows the commerce secretary to suspend restrictive fisheries management measures when there isn’t the science to back it up and requires the secretary to mitigate adverse impacts fisheries management is having on coastal communities and businesses.

“Our coastal communities need help today because current conditions threaten a way of life for generations of fishermen,” Pallone said in his press release. “There are many ways we can help these communities by concentrating on the industries that are dependent on the ocean. These are necessary repairs to make the fisheries management process work again.”

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Although fishermen in the Virgin Islands agreed to annual catch limits for multiple species of fish caught in federal waters, Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen wants to give them and fishermen across the country some flexibility, according to spokesman Monique Clendinen Watson.

Christensen signed on to the Flexibility and Access in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2011, which amends the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to extend the authorized time period for rebuilding certain overfished fisheries and to provide more flexibility in administering the regulations.

According to Christensen’s press release, the amendment to the Magnuson-Stevens law, which imposes new catch limits for all United States fisheries in an attempt to preserve and repopulate them, has drawn the ire of fishermen across the country and the territory.

The regulations went into effect this year.

“While I support conservation efforts and promoting healthy fisheries, in these tough economic times, we need to ensure that we are not placing unnecessary burdens on our fishermen, who are an important part of our economy,” Christensen said.

Carlos Farchette, who serves as chairman of the Caribbean Fishery Management Council, said he was not aware of the bill now working its way through the House of Representatives.

He agreed that some wiggle room was needed but said that fisherman from both the St. Thomas and St. Croix districts worked with the Caribbean Fishery Management Council to set the catch limits.

Farchette confirmed that local fishermen do fish in federal waters, which begin three miles out from the shoreline.

“On St. Croix, they fish Long Bank and St. Thomas has a large fishing area in federal waters,” he said.

Christensen indicated that she brought Virgin Islands fishermen to the nation’s capital to testify on catch limits and that she has testified on their behalf before the Caribbean Fishery Management Council.

The bill was sponsored by New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. Phone calls to his office requesting more information on the bill were not returned.

A press release on his website indicates key provisions in the legislation allow for an extension of the timeframe for rebuilding a fish stock beyond 10 years under certain circumstances; increased transparency in the process for developing annual maximum fishing levels; and requiring fisheries managers to use an improved system of data collection called the Marine Recreational Information Program.

The bill also allows the commerce secretary to suspend restrictive fisheries management measures when there isn’t the science to back it up and requires the secretary to mitigate adverse impacts fisheries management is having on coastal communities and businesses.

“Our coastal communities need help today because current conditions threaten a way of life for generations of fishermen,” Pallone said in his press release. “There are many ways we can help these communities by concentrating on the industries that are dependent on the ocean. These are necessary repairs to make the fisheries management process work again.”