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NFC: Sargassum Update (FWD -- Initial Header Error)

From: Rjga at aol_com (I think)

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In a message dated 11/8/99 1:41:35 PM Eastern Standard Time, Rjga writes:

<< SARGASSUM UPDATE -During the past several years, the South Atlantic 
Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) has worked with NMFS to enhance fishery 
protection mandated by the most recent iteration of the Magnusen Act. The new 
regulations require the various councils to identify important habitat and 
take action to assure that this habitat is afforded protection. The SAFMC did 
this in two ways. First, it revisited all its existing FMPs for managed 
species, and determined what habitats were critical to the life history of 
the members of the fishery. This resulted in certain types of waters, 
wetlands, and upland areas being designated one of  two levels of special 
significance as habitat. Because of the special significance of sargassum off 
the Atlantic coast, the SAFMC took a second step, to declare sargassum a 
fishery (in fact it is a fishery of one company in Beaufort, NC), and then to 
address how it should be regulated. And so the sargassum FMP was born. But 
like the coral FMP, the purpose of the plan was to evaluate threats to the 
habitat and then take action. And like the coral FMP, the sargassum FMP 
provides a schedule for phasing out harvest.
    The one harvestor in Beaufort didn't much care for this plan and fought 
it tooth and nail, ably assisted by friends and colleagues in state and 
federal government positions. Now the final recommended FMP is up for 
approval or disapproval through the EIS being written by NMFS, and NMFS is 
seen as likely to reject the FMP. A howl has been raised by other states, by 
environmentalists, by fishermen, and by the SAFMC itself. Despite hundreds of 
letters in support of the FMP and about two opposed, NMFS is likely to reject 
the FMP. Why? Bill Hogarth and NMFS are under pressure from the commercial 
fishing industry to void the sargassum FMP. They see it as a weak link in the 
mandate to protect habitat of other fisheries. If sargassum can be shot down, 
then perhaps other special habitats designated for specific fisheries can 
also be voided. In addition, the friends of the sargassum harvestor have used 
their influence inside state and local government to shoot down the sargassum 
    Here are some quotes from comment letters received by the SAFMC on this 
 "Reefkeeper International strongly supports a two-year phase out on the 
harvest of sargassum in the South Atlantic to protect this valuable resource 
upon which so many species of marine life are dependent…Recognizing the 
importance of sargassum, the SAFMC declared sargasum to be Essential Fish 
Habitat (EFH) for snappers and groupers and coastal migratory pelagics…and 
the need to eventually eliminate its harvest" (Alexander Stone, Director, 
Reefkeeper International).   
 "The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources …continues to 
wholeheartedly support the designation by the Council of pelagic sargassum as 
essential fish habitat (EFH) for other species managed by the council. We 
also support as well the establisherment of the fishery management plan (FMP) 
as currently proposed to protect the integriety of this critically important 
habitat." (John Miglarese, Deputy Director, Marine Resources Division).   
 "We support in the strongest possible terms your approval of the FMP for 
pelagic sargassum, as developed and approved by the SAFMC and all of its 
adjunct committees and advisory panels over the course of several years. We 
further request that you move expeditiously to develop and issue proposed 
rules to implement that FMP. To do less at this stage would be 
unconscionable, and an abrogation of the agency's responsibility to manage 
the nation's marine resources in a manner that produces optimum yield from 
all fisheries…NMFS has already caused an unacceptable delay in promulgation 
of actions to phase out and then ban sargassum harvest… This failure is 
unconscionable and objectionable….To raise procedureal objvctions at this 
stage smacks of the worst sort of bureaucratic and political 
obstructionism…Should NMFS decide to rebuff both overwhelming public 
sentiment and the long and careful SAFMC process, we challenge you to design 
and then implement a full prohibition on sargassum harvest through the EFH 
process….We strongly object to NMFS' attempt to guide pulbic comment, beyond 
its authority through the notice process…(it) calls into question the 
agency's ability to fairly and fully consider comments received on this 
matter…We strongly protest NMFS' attempt to manipulate the fishery management 
planning process in this case…"(Doug Rader, Environmental Defense Fund).
 This is me speaking. Bill Hogarth is getting pressure from his agency, but 
it's his call on whether the FMP is adopted or rejected. I've been involved 
in this process from the beginning as a member of the Habitat and 
Environmental Protection Advisory Panel to SAFMC.  I've seen the NC-DMF try 
to get the council to allow sargassum harvest to continue, only to cave when 
their role was publicized on the internet and SAFMC got stinging letters from 
all over the country.  The issue is both environmental and political. I urge 
evryone to support whatever action is taken by an outraged public, the SAFMC, 
and the EDF if it is forced to respond to NMFS's expected rejection of the 
sargassum  FMP. And I further urge everyone RIGHT NOW to telephone your 
comments to Bill Hogarth at 727-570-5305  - Bob Goldstein     

Doug Bessler  graduated from Iowa State University in 1994 with a BS in 
Fisheries and Wildlife Biology, and graduated  from Tennessee Technological 
University in 1996 with an MS in Biology.  He was then employed by the North 
Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in May 1996 as  District 5 Assistant 
Fisheries Biologist.  He was upgraded to Biologist 1 in March 1998 and became 
District 8 Fisheries Biologist in September 1998. He has been a member of the 
American Fisheries Society and the North Carolina and Tennessee chapters 
since 1994. He is certified as a Fisheries Professional by the American 
Fisheries Society (1997) and has presented research papers at 7 AFS meetings 
since joining the society.
Bob Curry has been the Fisheries Program Manager for the North Carolina 
Wildlife Resources Commission since 1994.  His responsibilities 
include:managing the Fisheries Division budget, serves as the Commission's 
Sport Fish Restoration Coordinator, oversees the State's six fish hatcheries 
and manages the statewide research and survey program. Bob received his B.S. 
degree in Biology from Augusta College in 1978 and his M.S. degree in 
Fisheries and Wildlife Science from the University of Tennessee in 1981.  He 
began his career as a Wildlife Enforcement officer for the Tennessee Wildlife 
Resources Agency.  In 1984, he was hired by the North Carolina Wildlife 
Resources Commission as the Assistant Fisheries Biologist in District 3.  He 
moved to Fayetteville in 1986 to serve as the coastal region Development 
Coordinator, where he was responsible for the striped bass production program 
at the Weldon and Fayetteville hatcheries. Bob has been a member of the 
American Fisheries Society since 1979.  He has been an active member of the 
North Carolina Chapter and chaired the Education Committee from 1995 until 
1998.  He served as the state agency representative to the Southern 
Division's striped bass Committee.  Bob served on the AFS Arrangements 
Committee 1997-1999 and he was the General Chair of the 1999 AFS Annual 
Meeting.  Bob is a member of several AFS sections and is currently an 
at-large member of the 2000 AFS Nominating Committee. 
Barry Baker  (not received at press time). 
Kim Baker  (not received at press time).

 Robert J. Goldstein, Ph.D.
 Robert J. Goldstein & Associates, Inc.
 8480 Garvey Drive
 Raleigh, NC 27616
 tel 919-872-1174, fax 919-872-9214
 e-mail     rjga at aol_com
 URL    http://members.aol.com/rjga >>

Robert J. Goldstein, Ph.D.
Robert J. Goldstein & Associates, Inc.
8480 Garvey Drive
Raleigh, NC 27616
tel 919-872-1174, fax 919-872-9214
e-mail  rjga at aol_com
URL     http://members.aol.com/rjga