fishery management plan to address overfished North Atlantic
swordfish, Western Atlantic bluefin tuna, and large coastal shark
stocks is now available for public review from NOAA's
Fisheries Service. The Fisheries Service is seeking comment
from fishermen, conservationists and other interested members
of the public on the draft proposal to protect and rebuild these
and other highly migratory species.
The draft fishery management
plan for Atlantic swordfish, tunas and sharks was developed by
the Fisheries Service to rebuild highly migratory species identified
as overfished. The draft plan was completed with help from an
advisory panel composed of fishermen, scientists, regional fishery
management councils, state officials, and conservationists.
The draft plan is part of a number
of new and modified stock rebuilding plans required for overfished
stocks under the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management
Act amended by Congress in 1996. It is the second proposal to
be distributed for public comment. The draft fishery management
plan provides a list of alternative actions.
"Atlantic swordfish, bluefin
tuna and shark stock declines in recent years have caught the
public's attention," said Terry Garcia, Commerce assistant
secretary for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator.
"The future of these fish stocks will be shaped by the
final product developed through the fishery management process,
which includes considerable public input."
"I have promised commercial
and recreational fishermen a comprehensive package of alternatives
to manage more effectively these highly prized species,"
said Rolland Schmitten, Fisheries Service director. "As
U.S. commissioner to ICCAT, I believe that these rebuilding alternatives
provide a strong foundation for international negotiations on
management measures to rebuild these stocks."
The draft highly migratory species
fishery management plan is the first comprehensive plan for Atlantic
tunas, swordfish, and sharks. It replaces and updates separate
plans that had been prepared for Atlantic swordfish and sharks.
Under the draft, rebuilding plans are proposed for bigeye tuna,
north Atlantic swordfish, and large coastal sharks. For Atlantic
bluefin tuna, a preferred rebuilding alternative is not identified,
due to the need to wait for the results of a new stock assessment
and ICCAT management recommendations (available late November).
The draft plan also addresses other important requirements under
the Magnuson Stevens Act, including bycatch communities, essential
fish habitat, and safety at sea.
The public is invited to comment
on the draft proposal through Jan. 25, 1999. The draft proposal
is available from and written comments can be sent to: Rebecca
Lent, Chief, Highly Migratory Species Management Division, 1315
East-West Highway, Silver Spring, Md. 20910.