Proposed rule for fishermen should be modified
Hawaii recreational fishers would be better served if the proposed National Saltwater Angler Registry program rule (now under public review) was modified in accordance with the following recommendations, or the state took action to get a state exemption.
How to comment
You may submit comments, identified by RIN 0648-AW10, by any of the following methods:
» Electronic submissions: see www.regulations.gov
» Fax: 301-713-1875, Attn: Gordon Colvin
» Mail: John Boreman, Director, Office of Science and Technology, NMFS, 1315 East West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, Attn: Gordon Colvin
The proposed rule will require all people aboard recreational boats fishing more than 3 miles from shore to register as individual anglers by the end of this year and start paying a fee in two years. However, it doesn't levy any requirements on those who fish in adjoining waters inside of 3 miles. The rule is limited to its area of federal jurisdiction -the Hawaii Exclusive Economic Zone - (3 to 200 miles offshore) - because the waters inside of 3 miles are under the jurisdiction of the state. Thus the proposed federal registry can only require recreational fishery data from its EEZ waters, but not from state waters. The statistical survey data gathered would then be incomplete, and the primary purpose of improving the efficiency and accuracy of recreational statistical survey information cannot be achieved.
Moreover, Hawaii State Constitution Article 11 Section 6, and State Law 187A-21 HRS prohibit such fees for recreational fishing in Hawaii state waters; and implications of federalism (Executive Order 13132) would also discourage such federal action.
Another problem with this proposed rule is that it attempts to attribute all fishery management data to the individual anglers aboard the recreational fishing boats fishing in the EEZ by assigning the fishing "effort and catch" of each boat trip to the persons aboard the boat. There is no "boat fishing" data category. Having more than one person per boat in the registry would result in duplication and distortion of statistical survey data, e.g. one boat trip (effort) with four people aboard and total catch of one fish could easily be logged in a survey as four individual angler efforts, with a catch of one fish per angler or one catch for one angler and zero catches for the other three anglers.
The proposed federal registry rule should be modified to include a separate boat-based registry that limits the list of registrants to just the owners or principal operators of all recreational fishing vessels that are registered in the state Vessel Registration Program who fish in the EEZ (3 to 200 miles offshore) and/or state waters (0 to 3 miles offshore); or, Hawaii should be allowed a state exemption based on these terms.
This federal rule modification or state exemption would:
» reduce the number of fishermen required to be registered by more than 50 percent and eliminate additional fees;
» eliminate the state vs. federal jurisdictional problems and avoid the potential legal challenges;
» allow the fishing data from state waters to be legitimately collected by federal authority;
» provide significant cost-avoidance measures by using the existing state Vessel Registration Program for all of the information required by the proposed registry program;
» eliminate duplication and distortion of survey data and increase the accuracy, efficiency and reliability of the statistical survey data collected.
We cannot simply reject the proposed rule. All we can do is to attempt to modify it to better accommodate our cultural, social and legal framework. These recommendations would accomplish this.
William E. Mossman is a member of the Hawaii Boaters Political Action Association.
He lives in Kailua.