FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
CONTACT: DAVE LACKEY
SNOWE INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO ADDRESS NMFS FAILURES IN TRAWLED FISHING DATA
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) today introduced legislation to address failures recently identified in the accuracy of fishing data. Snowe’s legislation comes in response to revelations last week that the National Marine Fisheries Service research vessel Albatross IV relied on flawed sampling techniques to gather data later applied to fishing rules.
Yesterday, Snowe received assurances from Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans, and Adm. Conrad Lautenbacher, the NOAA Administrator, that these failures would be remedied and fishing data updated. Snowe has also asked NOAA to confirm that no similar sampling errors have been made on other research vessels. To further improve the accuracy and reliability of fishery science, Snowe said she has introduced the Fisheries Research Improvement Act.
“It is crucial that federal fisheries regulations
be based on sound science – and reliable data is the foundation upon which
these regulations can be based. Fishermen’s lives and livelihoods are dependent
on these regulations, so it is
Snowe’s legislation, the Fisheries Research Improvement Act, specifically targets the errors in NMFS data collection, and provides safeguards to ensure these errors are not repeated. Specif provisions will permit:
Independent review – The Snowe bill requires that the National Research Council conduct an independent review of the data collection techniques used by NMFS to evaluate its calibration protocols; the frequency and cost of these control checks; the accuracy and validity of data collected using verified equipment; and the manner in which measurement errors are accounted for. This independent review will provide a new foundation for examination of NMFS data collection, updating information last gathered in 1998 on stock assessment techniques.
Cooperative Research – Snowe’s legislation requires and authorizes funds for NMFS to implement a national cooperative research program to facilitate industry involvement in data collection and stock assessments. The legislation specifically authorizes $3 million for cooperative trawl research efforts in the New England groundfish fishery between NMFS and industry participants, permitting a commercial vessel to trawl alongside NOAA research craft to double-check information gathered.
Flexibility - The legislation states that the
Secretary of Commerce has the