economic and social effects of potential management scenarios and how different stakeholders may be affected.
Development of an understanding of how the size, distribution, and time patterns of market and non-market values vary with different management scenarios.
Finding: NMFS faces the daunting task of maintaining its traditional stock assessment activities in the face of pressures to harvest the maximal sustainable yield for most fisheries, meeting the new requirements added by the 1996 MSFCMA amendments, and meeting the requirements of the ESA and MMPA for which NMFS does not have a strong workforce or focused data collection activities.
Kammer (2000) found that NMFS’s base budget has been relatively stagnant because the budget increases have been largely offset by earmarks that may not match NMFS science priorities. The effect of earmarking on NMFS science priorities should be investigated. For example, it is important to determine the percentages of science funding that NMFS would devote to specific scientific issues compared with the percentages that result from earmarks. That could be done by comparing presidential budget requests with congressional appropriations.
Recommendation: Congress should examine the cost of collection, analysis, and management of data required by NMFS to fulfill its current mandates.
NMFS faces a dilemma. Regional FMCs tend to develop FMPs that require accurate and precise estimates of fish stock sizes and of the effects of alternative management options to prevent management failure. Many FMPs do not provide for a buffer to allow for uncertainties. As far as the committee is aware, there has been no analysis of the costs of such data collection and management. For example, the cost of full observer coverage in fisheries in which bycatch rates are unknown should be determined. Likewise, the cost of full VMS coverage should be determined.
The committee was unable to evaluate the question of whether NMFS has enough funding to fulfill its legal mandates but has identified some activities that merit increased funding, either through increased appropriations from Congress or through reprogramming of existing funds.