Senators urge NOAA to resume fish surveys

Nineteen U.S. senators, led by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, are asking NOAA Fisheries to resume research surveys in 2021. They say the work essential for commercial and recreational fisheries management.

Federal fisheries officials cancelled these surveys beginning in May to protect of those involved from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Murkowski said she understands the decision to cancel the surveys this year, but it is critical for NOAA to prepare for a safe and successful 2021 field season.

“We cannot lose another year of critical data to this pandemic,” she said.

The senators said that fishery and ecosystem research surveys are essential to support the nation’s blue economy and provide needed data to carry out provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

Commercial and recreational fisheries contributed 1.74 million jobs, over $240 billion in sales and $111 billion in gross domestic product to the nation’s in economy in 2017. The economic output of U.S. fisheries is maximized by setting accurate quotas and catch limits, which depend on the long-term, fishery-independent datasets collected by these surveys, they said.