Fishing is a pillar of Eastern North Carolina’s heritage and key component of our regional economy.
Where I Stand
Fishing is a pillar of Eastern North Carolina’s heritage and key component of our regional economy. Federal policy ought to reflect the importance of this industry to job creation and economic growth, but sadly that is not the case. Instead, federal law and federal regulators have crippled this once vibrant industry.
Defending fishermen is one of my top priorities in Congress. I have been active, and in many cases, a national leader on a wide variety of fishing issues. These include leading the fight against catch share programs that fishermen do not want, and leading the effort to secure flexibility in rebuilding fisheries.
As long as I have the privilege to serve, I will do everything in my power to make sure that fishermen are treated fairly by the federal government.
In June of 2015, the House passed major legislation – H.R. 1335 – to reauthorize and reform the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which is the law governing fisheries management in federal waters throughout the United States. I am proud to have been the author of three of H.R. 1335’s core provisions to improve flexibility, transparency and accountability in fisheries management.
• On flexibility, H.R. 1335 included language I originally introduced in 2007 as H.R. 4087 – the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act. That language would amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act to allow the 10-year time period for rebuilding fisheries to be extended under certain common-sense circumstances. In allowing such flexibility, the bill would provide for timely restoration of healthy fisheries while also ensuring that fishermen are not put out of business because of the rigid timelines currently in the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
• On transparency, H.R. 1335 includes language from legislation I originally introduced in 2011 as H.R. 2753 – the Fishery Management Transparency and Accountability Act. That language would bring sunlight to the proceedings of federal fisheries managers by requiring federal Regional Fishery Management Councils to broadcast their meetings live over the Internet. It would also require transcripts and video/audio recordings of council and Science and Statistical Committee (SSC) meetings to be made freely available to the public. I was alerted to the need for this language after hearing from fishermen who wanted to follow the councils’ proceedings but could not do so due to the time and expense involved with attending in person.
• Finally, H.R. 1335 includes language to rein in catch share programs on the Atlantic Coast. I have championed this issue for many years through successful efforts to strip federal funding for new catch share programs, which destroy fishing jobs and communities. The bill includes language that would require a majority of permit holders in a fishery to vote for a new program before it could be imposed by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Fishermen in the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic regions do not currently have that right.
Legislative Action in the 114th Congress
H.R. 3310 - Preserving Public Access to Public Waters Act - Would preserve access to public waters and maintain the vital role of States in fisheries management decisions.
H.R. 2109 - Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act - Would amend the Endangered Species Act to replace the current standard for awarding court costs, including lottery fees, in citizen suits with the federal judicial code standard for awarding costs to a prevailing party.
H.R. 2098 - Common Sense in Species Protection Act - Would amend the Endangered Species Act to require the federal goverment to exclude an area from designation as a critical habitat if the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of including the area.
Letter calling on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to reconsider proposed 2016 harvest reductions for summer flounder.
Letter calling on federal and state regulators to review shellfish lease permitting policies that are more restrictive than those in neighboring states like Virginia and may be hurting efforts to grow the industry in North Carolina.
Letter calling on the Obama administration to stand up for U.S. fishermen and fight for an increase in quota for western Atlantic bluefin tuna.
Letter to House Appropriations Committee supporting robust funding for fishing data collection programs, stock assessments, and research.
Letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urging them not to list spiny dogfish under the CITES treaty, which would be both economically damaging and totally unnecessary.
Congressman Jones worked closely with North Carolina fishermen and the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries in imploring the National Marine Fisheries Service to reconsider a proposal that would have closed federal waters off of Dare County to pelagic long-line fishing in order to protect dusky sharks. Their request was granted in February 2013, preventing the numerous vessels operating in those waters from going out of business.