In his article, AT THE ASMFC: THE COMPELLING FORCE OF LAW, Charles Witek points out the dichotomy at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission when it comes to enforcing fishing management regulations.
The good news is that ASMFC can, with the help of NOAA, force the states to adhere to the regulations. In this case menhaden in the Commonwealth of Virginia. On the other hand, with striped bass, when it comes to enforcing their own rules they come up short. Very short.
“The irony of the situation is that, while the ASMFC can use such legal consequences to compel the states to comply with its management plans, if the ASMFC itself fails to comply with the explicit terms of one of its own management plans, it faces no consequences at all.”
Worse, as Witek points out, is there is no way for the public to compel the ASMFC to act.
“And if the public can’t even compel the ASMFC to do what it had already said it would do to protect the health of fish stocks, it certainly lacks the power to force the ASMFC to do what the public expects of it: rebuild overfished stocks and then maintain those stocks at healthy levels, something that, in the 77-year history of the organization, it has not ever done—even once.”
I agree with Witek, its time we revised the legislation that controls ASMFC to make sure they are doing their job. I suspect in the near future there will be an effort started, asking Congress to amend the law so if ASMFC fails to do its job the public can go to the court and seek compliance, “judicial intervention” as Witek notes.