"We called on Stephanie Madsen, Dr. Gordon Kruse, David Benton and Dr. Terry Quinn to represent viewpoints from people deeply involved in fisheries issues," said conference organizer Chris Oliver. "U.S. fisheries are relatively healthy, especially when compared with many other areas of the world, and we are dedicated to keeping them that way," said Oliver. "These four, plus several other people knowledgeable about Alaska marine issues, will be instrumental in the national discussion on how we all might best sustain and improve our fisheries."
The March 24-26 national conference, co-sponsored by the eight Regional Fishery Management Councils, the three Interstate Marine Fisheries Commissions, and NOAA Fisheries Service (the National Marine Fisheries Service), will be in Washington, D.C. Open to the public, the conference is designed to provide a forum for information exchange and a place for participants to talk over future fisheries management.
Stephanie Madsen, current chair of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, will also lead the Main Conference Panel, where fishery managers from across the country will weave together the recommendations of the advisory panels and scientific committee. Their insights are expected to be useful to Congress and the Administration as they draft and implement new laws and guidelines to regulating the nation's fisheries.
Dr. Gordon Kruse, from the University of Alaska and a member of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council's Science and Statistical Committee, will serve on the Science and Statistical Committee at the national meeting. At the national meeting, the committee will serve a similar purpose as science and statistical committees that serve the eight Councils, scrutinizing the fisheries-related science and advising the main conference panel.
Dave Benton, with leadership experience at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and current Executive Director of the Marine Conservation Council, will serve on the Science Panel. The Science Panel will examine ways to improve the use of scientific information for managing marine fisheries. Particularly, it will examine the scientific and statistical committees which are required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Management and Conservation Act for each regional fisheries council.
The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy has recommended that scientific and statistical committees, rather than regional fisheries councils, have the authority to determine allowable biological catch levels. Other draft legislation suggests requirements for extensive, independent review of scientific information and/or creation of separate scientific authorities.
Dr. Terry Quinn of the University of Alaska, marine scientist and participant on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council's Science and Statistical Committee, will participate on the Overfishing and Rebuilding Workshop which will present an opportunity to discuss current regulations and potential improvements to ensure sustainable fisheries and continued rebuilding.
Several others from the Northwest and Alaska with interest in Alaska fisheries management will also be attending the national conference.
Over-all conference focus will land strongly on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and on the re-authorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which governs the United States' marine fisheries.
Speakers invited to address the conference include Senators Ted Stevens, Olympia Snowe, and Daniel Inouye; Congressman Wayne Gilchrist; the new Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutierrez; and the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr.
For more information on the national fisheries conference, go to http://www.managingfisheries.org/