NANFA-- Fish Habitat backgrounder for media, FYI

Shireen Gonzaga (
Tue, 10 Aug 1999 18:03:24 -0400 (EDT)

Today, a "backgrounder" was held at the Regional Reporters Association
Meeting concerning fish habitat regulation and management, at the
National Press Club. I was unable to attend due to other commitments
(like going to work to earn money for tanks and fish/frog/hcrab food).

But the good news is that the event coordinator is doing his best to
have it on the Sea Grant Media website in a video/audio format. After
a couple of days have gone by, go to, select
"Press Center" and then select "Press Briefings."

Appended below is the Sea Grant press release about the event.


P.S. if someone knows the lyrics to "Froggie goes a-wooing," please
send it to me.

Sea Grant Media Center News Release

Special Environmental News Background Briefing

The Next Fishery Battleground: Essential Fish Habitat
Regulation, Management

What is essential fish habitat? How does one manage fish that live in
international, federal and state waters? Are the rules for fishing,
coastal development and water usage changing? Can America still save its
fisheries? What will be the impact of these changes on commercial fishing,
on sport fishing? Will other environmental laws be affected by this change
in approach?

These are some of the issues that will be discussed at a special Regional
Reporters Association news backgrounder on Tuesday, August 10 at 9:30 a.m.
at The National Press Club in the Edward R. Murrow Room. Coffee service

The National Sea Grant College Program, a NOAA and state funded
university-based marine, coastal and Great Lakes research consortium,
has assembled a panel of five perspectives about the major changes now
underway in how the federal government manages U.S. marine fisheries.
These changes were mandated in the 1996 Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries
Conservation and Management Act.

The presenters will be Thomas Bigford, Chief of Habitat Protection
Division for NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service; Lee Crockett,
Executive Director of the Marine Fish Conservation Network, a consortium
of 80-plus NGOs and environmental interest groups; Michelle Desiderio,
Director of the Air, Waste & Wildlife Policy in the Regulatory and Legal
Affairs Division of the National Association of Home Builders; Ken Able,
Director of Fishery Research at Rutgers University's Marine Field Station
in Tuckerton, NJ and a New Jersey Sea Grant Research Scientist and Richard
E. Gutting, Jr., Executive Vice President, National Fisheries Institute.

NOAA National Sea Grant Program Director Ron Baird will open the
presentation with overview remarks. Forty-five minutes has been reserved
for question and answer discussion. The session will end at approximately
11 a.m. and participants will be available for one-on-one interviews.
Resource material about the issues will also be handed out at the session.

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service is working with the regional
fishery management councils to implement new essential fish habitat
regulations designed to protect important habitats for each species of fin
fish and shell fish under their management.

The first major deadline was last October when Councils were to submit
essential fish habitat regulation amendments to NMFS. Once approved these
amendments will identify all essential fish habitats including "those
waters and substrate necessary for fish for spawning, feeding or growth to
maturity," a definition created by Congress with the 1996 passage of the
Magnuson-Stevens Act.

NMFS is currently implementing EFH provisions around the country. Among
their top priorities are to work with industries and agencies to explain
the new mandates; to implement the consultation provisions whereby federal
activities are reviewed to minimize adverse impacts on EFH; and to address
research and information gaps to strengthen management efforts.

"This is the most significant piece of environmental legislation since the
Clean Water Act of 1972," says Ronald Baird, Director of NOAA's National
Sea Grant College Program. "The law now mandates not only the management
of the harvest of commercial species, but the environment necessary for
the reproduction, feeding and growth of those species as well. The full
implications of essential fish habitat are not widely appreciated by the
public. They will be shortly.

"What we have now is a quantum leap in legislative approaches to
environmental management with a focus on the production function of fish
population dynamics that introduces both integrated management and
ecosystem base management in the stewardship equation. This is a long way
from harvest control, single species approaches to fishery management that
have been the practices to date," says Baird.


Date: Tuesday, August 10, 1999

Time: 9:30 a.m. 11:00 a.m.

Location: National Press Club, Edward R. Murrow Room

Speakers: Speakers: Tom Bigford, NOAA Fisheries Habitat Protection
Division; Lee Crockett, Marine Fish Network; Michelle Desiderio, National
Association of Home Builders; Ken Able, Rutgers University Marine Field
Station; Ron Baird, NOAA National Sea Grant College Program, Richard E.
Gutting, Jr., Executive Vice President, National Fisheries Institute.

Topic:The implication of new fishery management approaches that have been
Congressionally mandated through the 1996 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery
Conservation and Management Act.

A look at the potential impacts of a shift from single species management
system to ecosystem management of the United States? marine fisheries.
Issues include coastal land and water uses; changes for commercial and
recreational fishers; cross jurisdictional management between
international, federal and state habitats; scientific knowledge and
research necessary to do so.

Shireen Gonzaga, Freelance Science Writer, Baltimore, MD.
Telephone: 410-338-4412 E-mail:

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