JONES WEIGHS IN FOR NORTH CAROLINA FISHERMEN

Nov 2, 2017 Issues: Fishing

WASHINGTON, DC –  Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) is moving to help Eastern North Carolina fishermen who could be hurt by legislation pending before Congress.  The bills threaten America’s domestic shark fisheries, and a significant piece of those fisheries is in Eastern North Carolina.  They are sustainably managed and help support the economy in coastal North Carolina and other small fishing communities around the country.   

The bills – H.R. 1456 and S. 793 – purport to be an attempt to stop the practice of shark finning (i.e. the process of removing fins at sea and discarding the shark).  They seek to do so by banning the sale of fins, even those harvested legally here in the United States.  However well-intentioned the bill sponsors may be, the fact is that shark finning has been illegal in the United States for many years.  Advocates for the legislation have countered with the false allegation that the practice is still widespread.  They publicly claimed that NOAA Fisheries had 500 cases of shark finning over the last several years.  That number sounded impossibly high to Congressman Jones, so in August he asked NOAA Fisheries for the real number of federal shark finning violations assessed over the past five years.  According to NOAA, the real number is not 500, it is 22.  The Associated Press recently ran a story correcting the record on the ‘fake news’ claims distributed by the bill’s supporters.  You can find that story HERE

“If foreign countries are failing to manage their shark populations appropriately, they should change their ways,” said Congressman Jones. “But we should not put U.S. fishermen out of business in the process.” 

This week, Congressman Jones urged U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to join him in opposing the legislation.  The Commerce Department is home to the regulatory agency – NOAA Fisheries – which manages the domestic shark fisheries.  As Congressman Jones pointed out to Secretary Ross in a letter, federal law mandates that the domestic shark fishery be managed sustainably.  According to renowned shark scientist, Dr. Robert E. Heuter of Florida’s Mote Marine Lab, America has “one of the best systems in the world for shark fisheries management and conservation.”  The proof can be seen in NOAA Fisheries own data.  NOAA Fisheries’ 2015 coastal shark survey captured and tagged “more than 2,800 sharks, the most in the survey’s 29-year history.”  The leader of the survey stated that NOAA Fisheries has “seen an increase in the number of sharks in every survey since 2001,” and the agency called the survey results “very good news for shark populations.” 

“Mr. Secretary, you know how important good jobs are to America’s future,” said Congressman Jones.   “The sustainably managed U.S. shark fishery helps many hard working people in Eastern North Carolina and across the country support their families and their communities. For the sake of the American fishermen who make this country great, I respectfully ask you to oppose these bills.”

A copy of the letter that Congressman Jones sent to Secretary Ross is attached.

Congressman Jones has long been a strong supporter and advocate for Eastern North Carolina fishermen

For additional information, please contact Allison Tucker in Congressman Walter Jones’ office at Allison.tucker@mail.house.gov or (202) 225-3415.

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