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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals
and federal governments to develop fishery management plans. NOAA then implements these fishery management plans.
We need not only scientific data, but also economic and social data. We need to know about fishermen in the fishing communities, and how they interact. We are trying to reduce the amount of bycatch—nontarget species that are caught and discarded. Unfortunately, this bycatch is not a small fraction of the total amount of fish caught. In the Gulf of Mexico, about seven pounds of fish are caught for every pound of shrimp, but only the shrimp are harvested; the other fish are discarded. Bycatch is a real problem, and we are trying to reduce it.
Returning to the broader theme of strategic planning, in the process of developing an agency plan, we are working not only within NOAA but also with a wide range of constituents. We also work very closely with Congress. NOAA has always received strong bipartisan support and continues to receive good input from Congress and the public on its products and services. Almost everything we do touches most Americans—from forecasting the weather to managing fisheries to promoting safe navigation. The strategic plan has allowed us to show the Administration, Congress, and the public that we have examined our mission and established goals and priorities. In 1996, we were pleased to be one of the few agencies for which the President proposed a budget increase. Even with all of the financial constraints, I think there is an understanding that the things we do are important. We're faced with some real challenges, as are all federal agencies. We're faced with the challenges of downsizing and of living within the budget limits. Both the Administration and the Congress have agreed to balance the federal budget, so we must learn to operate in this mode. The strategic planning process with goals, objectives, and measures of performance is the best way that we can meet the challenges. One of the things that you can do during this conference is to look even more broadly at the science and technology activities that are important to this Nation. In the end this will help us all achieve our goals.