Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Senator Collins’ Amendment To Resolve Disruption To At-Sea Monitoring

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins announced today that the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a bipartisan amendment that she offered with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. The bill must now be considered by the full Senate.

The Collins-Shaheen amendment was introduced in response to the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) recent decision to decrease funding for at-sea monitoring for the 2015 fishing year. The amendment directs NMFS to find a resolution to the disruption caused by this funding decision. In April, Senator Collins authored a bipartisan letter to Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, Eileen Sobeck, which noted: “Suddenly declining stock assessments have led to drastic cuts in fishing quotas and fishermen’s revenues. This unexpected crisis has left many of our fishermen, particularly those with the smallest boats, with little room to pay additional per-trip fees for at-sea monitoring.”

The Senators’ bipartisan amendment underscores the Committee’s serious concern with NMFS’s funding decision.

The bill also provides funding for several NOAA programs that benefit Maine, including:

• $72.2 million toward annual stock assessments and improved data collection. The information collected through the expansion of annual stock assessments and data collection serves as the basis for formulating sound management decisions and ensuring sustainable fisheries practices.

• $24.5 million toward survey and monitoring. This funding supports important survey work that is essential to maintain the scientific integrity of data collections that feed into fishery stock assessments.

• $12 million toward cooperative research. Cooperative research allows fisheries managers to harness the skills and unique knowledge of local fishermen to collect data critical to sustainable fisheries management.