May 30, 2012

Gillibrand, Bishop Urge Commerce Secretary to Appoint New Yorker on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Officials: “We Must Ensure that New York’s Voice on the Council Remains Strong”

Washington, DC  – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Tim Bishop today urged Commerce Secretary John Bryson to appoint a New Yorker for an at-large seat at the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) and to seriously consider Governor Cuomo’s three nominees for this appointment. Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Bishop noted that it is critical that the seat, currently held by New Yorker Steven Schafer and set to open up later this summer, is filled by a nominee who understands and advocates for New York’s fishing industry, with 99% of all commercial fishing in the state based in Long Island ports. 

Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Bishop wrote in a letter to Commerce Secretary Bryson, “We are writing to you regarding an at-large seat on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, which is about to open later this summer… Many coastal communities on Long Island are directly affected by decisions made by the Mid-Atlantic Council, and during this challenging economic time, they cannot afford to lose any of their council seats.  There are currently three New Yorkers who have been nominated by Governor Cuomo for this appointment.  It is our hope that as you make this important decision, you will give the governor’s nominees your full consideration and make every effort to ensure that New York’s voice on the Council is not lost.  This representation is vital for New York’s fishing interests.” 

The decisions that the MAFMC make significantly impact both the commercial and recreational fishing industries in New York. The council regulates 13 species of fish in federal waters caught by New York fishermen.  The lawmakers  pointed out that many coastal communities on Long Island are directly affected by decisions made by the group and cannot afford to lose any of their council seats.   

Full text of the letter is below:

Dear Secretary Bryson, 

We are writing to you regarding an at-large seat on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, which is about to open later this summer.  The seat is currently held by a New Yorker, Steven Schafer. Once Mr. Schafer’s term expires, it is critical that the seat be filled by a nominee who understands the concerns of New York’s fishing industry, and we urge you to appoint another New Yorker to this seat. 

As you know, eight regional fishery management councils advise the Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the lead agency in regulating federal fisheries.  Due to its geography and the migratory patterns of the region’s fish species, two separate regional fishery management councils; the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC), regulate New York’s federal fisheries within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).  New York has state representation on the MAFMC, however none on the NEFMC.  The MAFMC regulates 13 species of fish in federal waters that are caught by New York fishermen.  The decisions that these bodies make significantly impact both the commercial and recreational fishing industries in my state. 

Ninety-nine percent of all commercial fishing in New York takes place from Long Island ports.  The overall economic contribution of the sport fishing, commercial fishing and seafood industries is estimated at $11.5 billion in New York.  New York’s fisheries contribute support over 150,000 direct and indirect local jobs.  In 2010, over 27 million pounds of fish were landed in New York – from fluke and tilefish to squid and whiting. 

Many coastal communities on Long Island are directly affected by decisions made by the MAFMC, and during this challenging economic time, they cannot afford to lose any of their Council seats.  There are currently three New Yorkers who have been nominated by Governor Cuomo for this appointment.  It is our hope that as you make this important decision, you will give the governor’s nominees your full consideration and make every effort to ensure that New York’s voice on the Council is not lost.  This representation is vital for New York’s fishing interests.  

Thank you for your attention to this important request, and we hope that you will give it your highest consideration.