Chairman Stevens Q & A with Witnesses
Senator Stevens: Mr. Chairman, I thought that I didn’t have an opening statement. I do have a summary, really, of comments I made. Plus I’d like to put into the record a summary of the bill itself, S.1195, that Senator Inouye and I introduced at the request of the Administration, and the amendments that we filed at the time we introduced, including the opt-out amendment that Mr. Belle has just commented on.
My only comment would be that while it may be that amendment needs some clarification, clearly it should be the right of a state that has wild fish to protect its fish without an economic analysis, just on the basis of the sheer right to protect it. We have half the coastline of the United States. We harvest 60 percent of all commercial fish harvested in the Untied States up off the waters of the Untied States, and that amendment would allow a portion of the coastline off of Alaska to be excluded from the concept of aquaculture while at the same time permitting other areas to be used if it was consistent with the problems of our wild fish.
I, myself, doubt seriously if we would ever be able to protect wild fish if we had aquaculture off of our shores.
I have told the Chairman that I just learned last week that I should refer to mariculture when I refer to the shellfish, is that right, Bill [Hogarth]?
Dr. Bill Hogarth, National Marine Fisheries Service - Yes sir.
Stevens: So all of you have only been talking about fish, not shellfish.
Hogarth: We have talked about both. Most of the shellfish are directed by the state because they are in state waters.
Stevens: I only want to state that the amendments that we filed will not impact mariculture. They only impact aquaculture, as I understand it. We do not seek to prohibit shellfish types of culture off of our shores, as I understand it. Is that right, Mr. Vinsel?
Vinsel: Yes, that is the term we use in Alaska. Mariculture for shellfish and we do have thriving shellfish mariculture as many other states do with very minimal problems both to the environment or the existing fisheries. The fin fish are our big concern.
Stevens: I have never been told of any conflict between the shellfish mariculture and our wild fish reproduction.
Vinsel: We do not see any within the United Fisherman of Alaska and we generally get along with the shellfish farmers and support their activities. They’re well-guided within the Department of Fish and Game.
Stevens: Mr. Hogarth, do you agree with the statement that I just made?
Hogarth: Senator Stevens, basically yes. This bill is only for offshore. It has no effect on what the states are doing in state waters. It is only in the federal waters.
Stevens: Our amendment goes beyond that, Bill. And I am saying that in that area that you describe as federal waters, in that area, mariculture is not inconsistent with the reproduction of wild fish, as I understand it.
Stevens: Thank you.
Witness Panel 1
Dr. William HogarthAssistant Administrator, National Marine Fisheries ServiceNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Dr. Richard LanganDirectorUniversity of New Hampshire Open Ocean Aquaculture Program
Mr. Randy CatesPresidentCates International, Inc.
Mr. Mark VinselExecutive DirectorUnited Fisherman of Alaska
Dr. Rebecca GoldburgSenior ScientistEnvironmental Defense
Mr. Sebastian BelleExecutive DirectorMaine Aquaculture Association