TO NATIONAL MPA PANEL - January 3, 2003

The Administration of U.S. President George W. Bush released on 3 January the list of its final candidates for the "National Marine Protected Area Federal Advisory Committee." The announcement was made by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Interior. "Required as part of Presidential Executive Order 13158 dealing with Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), the 30-person committee represents a broad stakeholder community, including scientists, academia, commercial and recreational fishermen, resource users and managers, and environmentalists," said NOAA. "The advisory committee's duties include providing advice and recommendations to the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior on implementation of aspects of the MPA Executive Order. The committee will be supported by the National Marine Protected Areas Center, established by NOAA in cooperation with the Department of the Interior, as required by Executive Order. The MPA Center is charged with developing a framework for a national system of MPAs and providing federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local governments with the information, technologies, training, and strategies to support a national MPA system for our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes." Final candidates for the MPA Federal Advisory Committee are:

* Dr. Tundi Agardy, Sound Seas; Bethesda, Maryland
* Mr. Robert Bendick, Jr., The Nature Conservancy; Altamonte Springs, Florida
* Mr. David Benton, North Pacific Fishery Management Council; Anchorage, Alaska
* Dr. Daniel Bromley, University of Wisconsin; Madison, Wisconsin
* Dr. Anthony Chatwin, Conservation Law Foundation; Boston, Massachusetts
* Dr. Michael Cruickshank, Marine Minerals, Technology Center Associates; Honolulu, Hawaii
* Mr. Ernesto Diaz, Puerto Rico Coastal Zone Management Program; San Juan, Puerto Rico
* Ms. Carol Dinkins, Vinson & Elkins Attorneys At Law; Houston, Texas
* Dr. Rodney Fujita, Environmental Defense; Oakland, California
* Dr. Dolores Garza, University of Alaska; Ketchikan, Alaska
* Mr. Eric Gilman, National Audubon Society; Honolulu, Hawaii
* Dr. Mark Hixon, Oregon State University; Corvallis, Oregon
* Mr. George Lapointe, Maine Department of Marine Resources; Augusta, Maine
* Dr. Bonnie McCay, Rutgers University; New Brunswick, New Jersey
* Mr. Melvin E. Moon, Jr., Quileute Natural Resources Department; LaPush, Washington
* Mr. Robert Moran, American Petroleum Institute, Washington, D.C.
* Dr. Steven Murray, California State University; Fullerton, California
* Mr. Michael Nussman, American Sportfishing Association; Alexandria, Virginia
* Dr. John Ogden, Florida Institute of Oceanography; St. Petersburg, Florida
* Mr. Terry O'Halloran, HulaRez Inc.; Kalaheo, Hawaii
* Mr. Lelei Peau, Department of Commerce of American Samoa, Pago Pago; American Samoa
* Dr. Walter Pereyra, Arctic Storm Management Group, Inc.; Seattle, Washington
* Mr. Max Peterson, International Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies; Washington, D.C.
* Mr. Gilbert Radonski, Sport Fishing Institute; Cape Carteret, North Carolina
* Mr. James Ray, Environmental Ecology & Response Shell Global Solutions Inc.; Houston, Texas
* Ms. Barbara Stevenson, Portland Fish Exchange; Portland, Maine
* Dr. Daniel Suman, University of Miami; Miami, Florida
* Capt. Thomas E. Thompson, International Council of Cruise Lines; Arlington, Virginia
* Ms. H. Kay Williams, Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council; Vancleave, Mississippi
* Mr.Robert Zales, II, Bob Zales Charters; Panama City, Florida

On the list are apparently only two commercial fishing representatives -- Wally Pereyra and Barbara Stevenson -- neither of whom now actively fish. The only recreational fishing representatives appear to be Mike Nussman, Gil Radonski and Bob Zales. According to NOAA, "Committee members were nominated by organizations and individuals. Potential members are offered membership into the committee and then must undergo a background check. These candidates were selected by a panel of experts from both agencies seeking to ensure that the committee's membership represented the broad spectrum of interested parties throughout the nation."

PCFFA Executive Director Zeke Grader said he was disappointed with the selection, but not surprised. "There are a few good individuals on the panel, but the overall group is abysmal; the candidates appear to have been chosen more for their connections inside the Beltway and not for any actual knowledge of the oceans or first-hand experience with MPAs," said Grader. "It would have been nice just to have a couple of working fishermen on the group, such as a Tony Iarocci or Chris Miller, who make their livings on the ocean, who have participated in MPA selection processes, and who will think and question."

"Marine protected areas are important resource management tools," U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans was quoted saying in the NOAA announcement. "We look forward to strong leadership from these individuals in helping us determine how best to continue our efforts, balancing conservation needs with commercial and recreational interests as we move forward to protect the marine environment for present and future generations." NOAA (which includes the National Marine Fisheries Service) is under the Department of Commerce. Department of Interior interests in the marine area include its Minerals Management Service (promoting offshore oil and gas development), the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (migratory sea birds and sea otters), and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (Tribal fishing rights). For more information on the selections, contact Andrew Larkin, NOAA Office of Legislative Affairs at: andrew.w.larkin@noaa.gov.