POMBO AMENDMENT WOULD DEPLETE FISH STOCKS By Roxanne Escobales09/06/06
Out of the Gulf of Mexico states, Florida is the largest contributor to the 5 billion dollar recreational fishing industry. But if thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not enough fish in the sea that could end. Today conservation groups spoke out against a proposed amendment to the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fisheries law that they say will deplete fish stocks.
Roger Fleming is a senior lawyer with the Conservation Law Foundation.
ACT: Mr PomboÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s amendment would effectively allow overfishing to occur for four years in all federal fisheries
Republican US Representative Richard Pombo of California has introduced an amendment to the law that regulates the number of fish allowed to be caught in oceans around the US. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s called the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and it is due to be reauthorized by Congress in the last few weeks of session.
Overfishing occurs when too many of a species has been caught and the fish population dips below an accepted level. And itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s happening to fish that are already under threat.
Conservation Lawyer Roger Fleming:
PomboÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Amendment would ban overfishing two years after a plan to end it is implemented. Conservation groups say it takes two years to come up with a plan, and so in effect it would be four years before overfishing would be addressed. They say this is too long and something needs to be done sooner.
Don Smith is a vice president of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association, the largest saltwater fishing club in the country. He says that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not just the recreational fishing industry and tourism that is under threat.
Americans eat about 12 pounds of fish per person each year. The company that owns Red Lobster buys fish from 30 different countries, and here in Florida, commercial fisherman make 800 million dollars from their catch Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just the money they make selling the fish off their boats, and does not include the revenues made by restaurants and retailers.
Tom Wheatley is the Gulf of Mexico organizer for the Marine Fish Conservation Network says this has a potentially huge affect on Florida culture.
Aside from overfishing, conservationists say the Pombo amendment would transfer power to regional fishery councils that donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have the scientific knowledge to rightly oversee management of fish stock.
It is not known when the amendment will go before Congress but it is expected to do so before session breaks at the end of the month.