9:06/08. US ADMINISTRATION PROPOSES INCREASES FOR FISHERIES RESEARCH AND MONITORING, BUT CUTS FARMLAND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION THAT BENEFITS FISH:
In releasing its budget proposal for FY 05, the Administration of U.S. President George W. Bush is providing for a "major increase for fisheries research and monitoring." According to the Administration, a "key goal of NOAA's [National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration] new strategic plan is to protect, restore and manage the use of coastal and ocean resources through ecosystem-based approaches to management. The President's 2005 budget request moves this effort forward by dedicating $1.158 billion to ecosystem management, an increase of over $145 million. As NOAA's lead agency for ecosystem management, NOAA Fisheries' [sic][National Marine Fisheries Service] and the living marine resources they manage will receive the majority of this investment.
"The primary focus of these investments is continuing to improve the collection of scientific data on which the management of living marine resources depends. Highlights include:
$33.8 million increase to complete construction of a third acoustically quiet fisheries survey vessel to collect data for stock assessments on 54 fish species in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic and Caribbean, including shrimp, snapper, grouper, shark, tuna and swordfish.
$9.9 million increase to expand and modernize the data collected by fisheries observers in 15 fisheries, including Northeast Groundfish Observers currently deployed in 43 fisheries, with an adequate level of coverage in only 29.
$6.0 million increase to more adequately assess fish stocks around the country, including monkfish, white and blue marlin, thornyhead and yellowtail rockfish, Pacific mackerel and bottomfish around Hawaii.
$5.3 million increase to expand the use of satellite monitoring of commercial fishing vessels for enforcement of fishing rules and collection of scientific data.
$12.0 million increase for research and management programs to help restore 12 species of threatened and endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest and the Klamath Basin.
$2.0 million more to conduct additional surveys and improve population estimates and predictive models for whales, loggerhead sea turtles and other key species."
While the Administration was announcing increases for marine research and monitoring, it was short-changing the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), proposing $16 million less than is authorized for the only Farm Bill program dedicated exclusively to the preservation of habitats on farm and ranch lands. In May 2002, the President signed the Farm Bill containing historic levels of funding to help farmers and ranchers protect wildlife habitat, improve the quality of soil, air and water, and increase use of renewable energy. The bill, in turn, helps fish by reducing sediment loads, pesticides and organics in streams that affect marine life. According to Defenders of Wildlife, WHIP has faced chronic funding shortages since 2002; to date, it has received only two-thirds of the funding promised in the Farm Bill. The FY 2005 budget also sleights the Conservation Security Program, an incentives program for farmers engaged in stewardship practices. In January, President Bush signed an appropriations omnibus that guaranteed the CSP the uncapped entitlement status envisioned by the 2002 Farm Bill, but his FY 05 budget slaps a funding cap back on the program. For more information, go to: http://www.familyfarmer.org.