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Capital Report


December 2013 Issue

Joint Ocean Commission Asks For More Ocean Funds in 2015
The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) encouraging incremental and significant increases to President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget for programs necessary to better understand, protect and restore U.S. oceans and coasts.

The Joint Initiative requests that OMB continue its support for NOAA programs that sustain the nation’s oceans, coasts and fisheries; provide increased funding for ocean observation and research programs under NOAA, NASA and the Navy; and provide significant investments toward implementation of the National Strategy for the Arctic Region.

Adequate investment in U.S. oceans and coasts will provide significant economic, social, ecological and security benefits, the Joint Initiative said.

Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
Looks to Revamp Magnuson-Stevens Act

In the second of a series of hearings to discuss the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation was asked by members of the fishing community representing the Southeast to improve the balance between biology and economy in the regulation.

In his testimony, Douglass Boyd, chairman of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, said that the reauthorization process will open “opportunities to make small, targeted changes that can provide major long-term improvements in our ability to manage adaptively without jeopardizing the sustainability of our fisheries.”

While the legislation has successfully restored populations of fish species, it has come at the cost of the economy and the trust of the recreational fishing community.

“Magnuson-Stevens as currently drafted simply does not work,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

The panel asked for an improvement in data and scientific research, saying that the best possible science serves as a basis for fisheries management. An increase in funding and the input of local fishermen were suggested as possible improvements to the data collection process.

Currently, there is little stability within the recreational fishing industry. Seasons vary in length and catches are not at a consistent level. Balancing the needs of commercial and recreational fishermen has presented a challenge. Commercial fishers look to earn the greatest profits in the least amount of time, while recreational fishers wish to maximize their time on the water, the panel said.

In the case of red snapper, regulations from Magnuson-Stevens like catch limits have helped to rebuild the population. However, recreational fishermen have seen these limits shorten their season as they reach their quotas more quickly. Roy Crabtree, regional administrator of NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Service for the southeast regional office, said that this has “contributed to a very polarized atmosphere when dealing with issues of red snapper management.”

Virginia Senators Question Interior Secretary’s Approach to Five-Year Plan
Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) wrote a letter to U.S. Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell asking about the status of allowing new seismic surveys to be conducted in the Atlantic, reported the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA).

In the last few years, BOEM has been studying potential environmental impacts of such studies and had originally planned to complete the programmatic environmental impact statement in 2012. Now, completion is not expected until 2014, which further delays the issuance of permits and notifications before surveys may be conducted, plus additional time for data processing and evaluation, according to NOIA.

Warner and Kaine question whether new Atlantic seismic data will be obtained before initial leasing decisions are made by BOEM with regard to the 2017 to 2022 Five-Year Plan.

Obama Nominates Janice Schneider for
Land, Minerals Management Assistant Secretary

U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Janice M. Schneider to be assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Schneider would oversee Interior agencies and initiatives for the sustainable management of public lands and offshore waters and the associated federal energy and mineral resources.

If Schneider is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she would replace Tommy Beaudreau, who has led the office since January 2013. Beaudreau would remain director of BOEM, where he has guided offshore energy reform and development since September 2011.

Schneider is currently a partner at Latham & Watkins LLP in Washington, D.C., where she is the local department chair in the Environmental, Land & Resources Department and global co-chair of the Energy and Infrastructure Project Siting and Defense Practice Group. Her legal career has focused on providing comprehensive scientific and environmental services in the fields of renewable and conventional energy infrastructure development, including oil and gas projects, coal, leasable mineral and hard rock mining, solar, wind and geothermal projects, electric transmission and pipeline projects, and hydropower project licensing and operation.

She has extensive knowledge of the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act and related issues associated with federal decision making, including wildlife and wetlands protection, cultural resource protection, conservation land acquisition, marine mammal and coastal zone issues.

During her federal career, she served as counselor to the deputy secretary of Interior (2000), trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (1998 to 1999, 2001), and Attorney-Advisor in Interior’s Office of the Solicitor (1993 to 1998).

Schneider received a J.D. from Northwestern School of Law in 1992, with a certificate in environmental and natural resources law, and was honored this year by the school with a distinguished environmental law graduate award. She earned a B.S. in biology and marine science from the University of Miami in 1983.


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