On 16 January at 1300 hours at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, in Newport,
Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) will host a field hearing of the
U.S. Senate Commerce Science & Transportation Committee to discuss the
west coast groundfish disaster.
In the past five years, landings of west coast groundfish have dropped drastically and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has listed eight species as "overfished."
In November 1999, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) imposed dramatic cuts, ranging from 14 to 85 percent depending on the species, in the amount of allowable groundfish harvest.
In January 2000, then Secretary of Commerce William Daley declared the groundfish fishery a disaster. In June 2000, Congress approved $5 million for community assistance for distressed coastal communities on the west coast.
In October 2000, the PFMC released its Strategic Plan that calls for the elimination of at least 50 percent of the current harvest capacity from the fishery. NMFS estimates that it could take 10 to 30 years for groundfish stocks to recover.
The Committee hearing will explore the causes, impacts and potential solutions to this kind of fisheries collapse, seeking ways to avoid similar collapses in the future.
For more information contact Commerce Committee staff at (202)224-5115 or go to the Committee website at: http://www.senate.gov/~commerce.