Schwarzenegger Nominates Conservationist to Fishery Council

Kate Wing Appointment Would Bring Balance and Public Voice to Table, Says NRDC

SAN FRANCISCO (March 31, 2004) - An ocean policy analyst with NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) could become the first conservationist ever appointed to the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), the quasi-governmental body that oversees fishing off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington. Kate Wing is one of six names submitted this month by Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for consideration by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

Conservationists say Wing's appointment would bring critically important balance to the council, which traditionally has been dominated by commercial fishing interests. "Fish are more than money," said Wing. "They're part of a living marine system, which we need to manage sustainably. If appointed, I will work to ensure a healthy ocean and fish for the future."

The PFMC sets the total allowable catch each year for sardines, groundfish, tunas, sharks and other fish. It sets other regulations and allocates the catch among commercial and recreational fishermen. The system has come under fire because fishing industry members dominate the PFMC and the nation's other fishery councils. At the same time, many types of fish have dramatically dropped. The Pacific groundfish fishery is considered to be in a state of collapse.

Last year, the independent Pew Oceans Commission released the first comprehensive evaluation of U.S. ocean policy in more than 30 years. It recommended more balanced representation on the fishery councils and separating decisions about allocation from total catch. Another high level commission, The U.S. Oceans Commission, appointed by the president and members of Congress, is expected to make similar recommendations next month.

"It would be an honor to bring a voice of conservation to the council," said Wing.

Secretary of Commerce Don Evans will announce final appointments by June 27. He will consider nominations by the governors of California, Oregon and Washington. There are a total of eight appointed seats on the council, who serve three-year terms.

Wing has a master's degree in marine policy from the University of Washington. She served on the staff of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee for Oceans and Fisheries under Sens. John McCain and Olympia Snowe. Currently a member of the PFMC's advisory group on highly migratory species, she has worked on management of many of California's fisheries, including squid, abalone, and nearshore finfish. She also works on Pacific groundfish.