As part of our new AFS approach to policy work, the Society recently spent a day in the halls of Congress. In response to on-going efforts to modernize the Endangered Species Act, Tom Bigford and Patrick Shirey met with Legal Counsel and the Marine Policy Fellow in Sen. Booker’s (D-NJ) office and with the Senior Legislative Assistant to Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA 3rd) to discuss ESA and aquatic resources.
AFS has been tracking the Endangered Species Act for decades, with a concerted effort since 2014 when the Society hired Patrick Shirey (J.D., Ph.D.) as its first Policy Fellow. Patrick has led an effort to combine three existing AFS policy statements (see archived version) into one updated version more suitable for decision making. On March 29, Tom and Patrick and their policy partners at The Wildlife Society shared their thoughts with Sen. Booker’s staff on how best to use the existing ESA authorities to avoid listings, enhance recovery, and eventually delist. The excellent discussions helped us to address a major priority in our Future of the Nation’s Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (see “Imperiled Species” pages). We accepted an offer to return to discuss the issues as legislation and appropriation language advance. AFS also met with staff in Rep. Roger’s office, with a focus on fish, mussel, and aquatic habitat issues in the area just north of Pittsburgh (Patrick’s home district). Patrick made solid connections with staff and we vowed to stay in touch.