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September 03, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama on Marine Fisheries

An Exclusive Sport Fishing Interview

Sport Fishing: Would an Obama   administration do anything to change the present system of federal fisheries management, largely governed by eight regional fishery-management councils with oversight by the National Marine Fisheries Service, within the Department of Commerce? If so, how would it change this system? If not, why not?

Obama: The regional fishery-management councils were established as a unique test of federal-stakeholder co-management.  As such, they serve a critical role in designing fishery-management plans that are regionally and fishery appropriate, as well as fair to the various industry participants. However, many stakeholders have stated they have lost confidence in the council appointments and decision-making process, and that is not good for the future of fishery management. I would take a very hard look at council system membership, staffing, structure and rules to ensure that ethics and other legal requirements are being met - and exceeded - and seek expert recommendations on reforms that could help the council system work better to meet the needs of today's fishery conservation and management. That would include looking at funding, as well as the training and preparation of council members and staff to meet future needs.