Tuesday, June 16, 2009

MD DNR Deputy Secretary Delivers Congressional Testimony on behalf of Assoc. of Fish & Wildlife Agencies in Strong Support of Fish Habitat Legislation

On behalf of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Eric Schwaab, Deputy Secretary, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, today testified at a House Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing in support of the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act (NFHCA) (HR2565) and the Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act (PSSCA) (HR2055).

Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Ron Kind (WI) on May 21, 2009, the NFHCA is a high priority for the Association. The bill would create an architecture for the National Fish Habitat Action Plan; authorize and define the National Fish Habitat Board; identify terms for Fish Habitat Partnerships and standards for projects to be submitted for funding consideration; establish a National Fish Habitat Partnership office under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; authorize the program at $75M; and other provisions.

“The Plan offers an investment strategy to support and formalize a fledgling infrastructure already working hard unto that end,” said Schwaab. “The investment will pay rich dividends — clean water, healthy ecosystems, abundant fish, fewer ESA listings, and quality water-based places to recreate, which will also support our economy. Absent the funding contemplated in the Act, it will be difficult to sustain the existing momentum and voluntary coordination of federal and state agencies in progress.”

The PSSCA, introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (CA), seeks to focus Pacific salmon conservation efforts on high priority conservation areas.

“The PSSCA will build the third leg of the stool to complement the NFHCA and existing salmon habitat conservation programs by focusing on public/private efforts to identify and protect a range-wide network of strongholds, facilitating a holistic and balanced approach to wild salmon conservation,” added Schwaab. “This added element is essential for helping the National Fish Habitat Board achieve its national goals by contributing to regional and international coordinated conservation actions specific to Pacific salmon.”

For more information about the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, the most comprehensive, science-based effort ever attempted to treat the causes of aquatic habitat decline and the fix the nation’s most pressing fisheries problems, visit www.fishhabitat.org.

Read the full testimony >