People have asked me what impact Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has gillnetted commercially for salmon at Bristol Bay, might have on national fishery management policy if elected vice president.
I’ve generally answered, “I don’t know.”
A better question might be: How would the two guys running for president, John McCain and Barack Obama, approach fisheries policy?
For clues, check out the October issue of Sport Fishing, a magazine for saltwater anglers.
The magazine invited the McCain and Obama campaigns to answer a handful of questions on topics ranging from marine protected areas to overfishing of Atlantic bluefin tuna.
Only Obama responded. Here’s one particularly interesting exchange:
Sport Fishing: Would an Obama administration do anything to change the present system of federal fisheries management, largely governed by eight regional fishery-management councils with oversight by the National Marine Fisheries Service, within the Department of Commerce? If so, how would it change this system? If not, why not?
Obama: The regional fishery-management councils were established as a unique test of federal-stakeholder co-management. As such, they serve a critical role in designing fishery-management plans that are regionally and fishery appropriate, as well as fair to the various industry participants. However, many stakeholders have stated they have lost confidence in the council appointments and decision-making process, and that is not good for the future of fishery management. I would take a very hard look at council system membership, staffing, structure and rules to ensure that ethics and other legal requirements are being met – and exceeded – and seek expert recommendations on reforms that could help the council system work better to meet the needs of today’s fishery conservation and management. That would include looking at funding, as well as the training and preparation of council members and staff to meet future needs.