Fisheries Survival Fund
Fisheries Survival Fund (FSF) was established in 1998 to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Atlantic sea scallop fishery. FSF participants include the vast majority of full-time Atlantic scallop fishermen from Maine to North Carolina.
FISHERIES SURVIVAL FUND EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER RECENT RULING IN NY WIND FARM CASE
October 1, 2018 — WASHINGTON — The following was released by the Fisheries Survival Fund:
Late yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied a ruling for summary judgment in the ongoing lawsuit against the leased wind farm area in the New York Bight. While the Fisheries Survival Fund (FSF) is pleased that the court found that the fishing industry and affected port communities have standing to bring claims in the case, we are concerned with other aspects of the ruling.
Specifically, we are troubled by the court’s finding that our claims under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) are not ‘ripe.’ The court held that, because the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) retains some authority to preclude surface disturbing activities in the period between issuing a lease and the approval of a construction and operations plan, the lease itself does not constitute the irretrievable transfer of resources required under NEPA. The court found that the “lease sale does not represent the final word on anything, nor does it commit any resources, even putting aside the question of whether it does so irretrievably.”
This suggests that the court views the lease as something akin to a ‘ticket’ to proceed, rather than a guarantee of any rights. Just as a concertgoer’s ticket can be revoked by a venue for inappropriate behavior, the court seems to contend that the leaseholder’s ‘ticket’ for at-sea development can be revoked by BOEM at any time. But in fact, judicial precedent interpreting the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) has held that the leaseholder gains more rights as development proceeds, and as more time and money are invested in a project. This means that, the further development proceeds, the more difficult it becomes for plaintiffs to overturn a leasing decision.
We are concerned that the court’s view of the case as premature at the leasing stage, combined with case law finding a leasing challenge too late at the construction and operation plan phase, leaves plaintiffs with no opportunity to challenge this siting decision.
We are encouraged the court never contested our view that the unsolicited bid procedure allowed BOEM to decide, behind closed doors, what area of the ocean was to be leased. But we are troubled by the court’s ruling that our OCSLA claims are barred because we did not comply with the provision requiring 60 days notice of an intended filing. We were not able to provide 60 days’ notice, because BOEM scheduled the lease sale only 45 days after publication of the Final Sale Notice.
The court held that we were not excused from compliance with the 60-day notice period because the statute does not require BOEM to schedule its lease sales with sufficient time to accommodate potential claimants. If the court’s position is upheld, BOEM apparently would have the ability to lease any portion of the ocean unchallenged, and would deny any harmed parties their right to challenge a proposed lease sale under the OCSLA. We believe given these circumstances that we should have been granted an exemption from this requirement.
Fisheries Survival Fund Submits Public Comments on OHA2
December 6, 2017 (Saving Seafood) — The Fisheries Survival Fund (FSF) has submitted public comments on Omnibus Habitat Amendment 2 (OHA2) to NOAA. OHA2, which was approved by the New England Fishery Management Council in 2015 and released for public comment by NOAA in November, would reform the network of habitat protections and area closures of the coast of New England.
FSF, which represents over 250 full-time active Atlantic scallop limited access permit holders, urges NOAA “to finalize the proposed rule and fully implement the amendment as recommended by the Council as quickly as possible, with the exception of the ‘lobster closure’ in the Northern Edge Habitat Management Area (‘HMA’).”
“OHA2 is the result of substantial effort on the part of the Council, its committees, its staff, and Plan Development Team (‘PDT’) members from NMFS and other institutions across multiple Fishery Management Plans (‘FMP’). It offers significant improvements over existing habitat protections, is based on the best scientific information available, and meets legal requirements concerning practicability,” states FSF in their comments. “Moreover, the collective benefits of improved management areas were designed to, and in fact do, comply with the amendment goals and applicable law for the reasons described herein.”
Read the full public comment here.
Fisheries Survival Fund Representatives Meet with Secretary of the Interior
Secretary References Meeting in Testimony Before Congress
At a meeting with representatives of the fishing industry in June, organized by the National Coalition for Fishing Communities, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke heard concerns about marine monuments, specifically the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in New England. FSF representatives also had an opportunity to speak to the Secretary about the proposed wind farm in New York Bight.
Discussions of both of the topics seem to have had an impact on the Secretary and his staff. Testifying before congress a few weeks ago the Secretary mentioned his trip to Boston when answering questions about both National Monuments and wind power. The video of his responses are below.
Fisheries Survival Fund Corrects the Record on Gulf of Maine Scallops
WASHINGTON — March 22, 2017 — The following was released by the Fisheries Survival Fund:
Atlantic sea scallops remain one of the most sustainably harvested stocks in the United States. With recent media attention on scallops in the northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM), the Fisheries Survival Fund, which represents the majority of the full-time Limited Access scallop fleet, has produced a fact sheet clarifying the true status of scallops in the region.
Recent data from the New England Fishery Management Council, which is responsible for sustainably managing the region’s scallop population, shows that Atlantic sea scallops in the NGOM are not overfished, nor are they experiencing overfishing. The Limited Access fleet is operating within its allocated federal quota, and the Atlantic sea scallop fishery remains certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. It also shows that most fishing in the area does not actually take place in the geographical NGOM, but rather in southwestern Stellwagen Bank, off the coast of Massachusetts. There are currently 36 active NGOM scallop fishing vessels in the NGOM, only 18 of which are home-ported in Maine.
We have provided a fact sheet below using the official documents in order to clarify these claims.
Fact Sheet on Scallops in the Northern Gulf of Maine
- There is no overfishing of the Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) scallop stock, nor is it rebuilding, as scallops in the NGOM are not considered a separate, unique stock. There are not separate reference points for NGOM scallops, nor are there separate Annual Catch Limits. For all management and scientific purposes, NGOM scallops are part of the overall scallop stock, and are included in the full scallop assessment. According to that assessment, scallops are not overfished and are not experiencing overfishing.
- The catch limit for the general category scallop boats in NGOM, currently set at 70,000 pounds, is based upon historical catch. The NGOM scallopers were given these allocations because they did not qualify for the limited access scallop fleet. More information can be found in Amendment 11 to the scallop Fishery Management Plan on the NEFMC website: http://www.nefmc.org/library/amendment-11
- There are 81 NGOM permits and only 36 active NGOM scallop vessels fishing in NGOM. Out of those, only 18 are home-ported in Maine. This can be verified in Table 4 below, which was obtained from the New England Fishery Management Council website, from the March 1 meeting of the Scallop Plan Development Team. The table can also be found in section 3.2.1 of Draft Discussions Document on NGOM management.
- Most of the scallop fishing activity in the NGOM does not occur near Maine, but offshore Massachusetts, in the southwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. Some of this activity is outside the actual NGOM management area. A table illustrating this can be found below, and can also be found in the Draft Discussions Document on NGOM management in section 3.1.
- The fishing activity of the limited access scallop fleet in the NGOM does not count towards the quota of the NGOM. The limited access fleet operates on a federal quota, in federal waters, under an entirely separate management system. This is not new: the limited access scallop fleet has been fishing in this area under this management program for many years.
- The Atlantic Sea Scallop fishery is certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. The scallop fishery’s commitment to sustainability is also reflected in their participation in the Research Set Aside program. Every year, a portion of revenue from the scallop catch is redirected towards research, which allows the scallop fishery to be managed by the most up-to-date science.
- All points made have been confirmed with the most up to date NEFMC findings. These links are provided below:
Scallop & Fishing Industry, Municipalities, Sue Feds to Ensure Seafood Interests Are Considered in NY Bight Wind Energy Project
Robert B. Vanasse
WASHINGTON (NCFC) – December 8, 2016 – The Fisheries Survival Fund (FSF), which represents the majority of the limited access Atlantic scallop fleet, is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction to delay an anticipated lease sale for the development of a 26-mile long wind farm project approximately 11 miles off the coast of Long Island, scheduled for December 15, 2016. The story was broken today by the Associated Press.
The filing alleges that the leasing process for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) did not adequately consider the impact the proposed New York Wind Energy Area would have on the region’s fishermen. The site chosen for the 127 square mile wind farm is in the waters of the New York Bight on vital, documented scallop and squid fishing grounds, which serves as essential fish habitat and grounds for other commercially important species, including black sea bass and summer flounder. It is also an important foraging area for threatened loggerhead sea turtles and critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.
The lawsuit argues that fishermen’s concerns regarding the location of the lease area received “virtually no attention or analysis” from government officials ahead of the planned December 15 lease sale, despite fishing stakeholders repeatedly making their concerns known. It further states that BOEM failed to identify the proposed wind farm’s environmental, economic, social, and cultural impacts, and failed to “consider alternative sites in an open, collaborative, public forum.”
Several other members of the National Coalition for Fishing Communities (NCFC)—including commercial fishing organizations, businesses, and communities that depend on the sustainable use of Atlantic Ocean resources—have joined the lawsuit. The suit was filed against Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, BOEM, and BOEM Director Abigail Hopper.
Organizations joining the lawsuit include: the Garden State Seafood Association and the Fishermen’s Dock Co-Operative in New Jersey; the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association in New York; and the Narragansett Chamber of Commerce and Rhode Island Fishermen’s Alliance in Rhode Island.
The City of New Bedford, Massachusetts, the nation’s top-grossing fishing port; the Borough of Barnegat Light, New Jersey; and the Town of Narragansett, Rhode Island have joined as plaintiffs. Also joining are three fishing businesses: SeaFreeze Shoreside, Sea Fresh USA, and The Town Dock.
The New York Bight consists of the waters from Cape May Inlet in New Jersey to Montauk Point on the eastern tip of Long Island, and offshore to the outer edge of the Continental Shelf, where the coasts of New York and New Jersey form an upside-down L around shallow waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
The plaintiffs are represented by the law firm of Kelly, Drye & Warren. The case will be heard by Judge Tanya Chutkan in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Case No. 1:16-cv-02409.
Press inquiries should be directed to Bob Vanasse at Stove Boat Communications, 202-333-2628.
Representatives from several of the plaintiffs, listed below, filed declarations explaining their support for the lawsuit:
- Fisheries Survival Fund (read a second declaration from FSF here and read a declaration filed in support of FSF from the Coonamessett Farm Foundation here)
- Garden State Seafood Association
- Long Island Commercial Fishing Association
- Narragansett Chamber of Commerce (Narragansett, RI)
- Fishermen’s Dock Cooperative (Port Pleasant, New Jersey)
- Rhode Island Fishermen’s Alliance
- City of New Bedford, Massachusetts
- Borough of Barnegat Light, New Jersey
- Town of Narragansett, Rhode Island
Fisheries Survival Fund Opposes An Atlantic Marine Monument; Says It Contradicts The President’s Own Order
WASHINGTON – May 4, 2016 – The organization representing the Atlantic sea scallop industry, one of the most economically valuable fisheries in the nation, has written to the White House opposing the creation of an Atlantic Marine Monument, noting that such an action subverts public processes, and contradicts the President’s own executive order on public participation in the regulatory process.
The Fisheries Survival Fund (FSF), an organization that comprises the majority of the Limited Access Atlantic sea scallop fleet, is one of the many stakeholders that frequently participates in the public fisheries management process. FSF opposes any attempts to circumvent this process, as noted in the letter.
“We strongly urge the President to not designate any marine monuments in New England, but rather to allow the public process to continue moving forward,” states the letter, which was sent to the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Let the President’s legacy be that he allowed the public to have a voice in how we manage our shared resources.”
The White House has been considering designating an offshore monument in the Northeast Atlantic at the behest of several environmental groups, an authority granted by the Antiquities Act. President Bush previously used this authority to create two expansive monuments in the Pacific Ocean around Hawaii and the Northern Mariana Islands.
As argued in the letter, “Public areas and public resources should be managed in an open and transparent manner, not an imperial stroke of the pen.” In fact, several regulations have already been developed through the Council process that ensure fisheries are properly conserving and managing marine resources.
FSF’s position mirrors that of Executive Order 13563, authored by President Obama himself, which states in part that regulations must be based on the best available science, involve public participation, and include greater coordination across agencies. The current management system is more consistent with these standards than a monument designation, which could be abused by a few select insiders. Through regional councils, the government is already protecting Cashes Ledge and deep-water corals.
If the Administration insists on the designation of a monument, the President should accept recommendations made by members of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Rhode Island Delegation, in consultation with other regional fisheries organizations, and approved unanimously by the ASMFC. Their proposal would ensure the protection of deep-water corals and ocean canyon substrates while allowing for fishing that would not affect the protected areas.