Financial Disclosure Statements
Council nominees and members and members of Science and Statistical Committees must file a Statement of Financial Interests to fulfill the requirements of the MSA. This financial information must be disclosed using NOAA Form 88-195, Statement of Financial Interests. It is unlawful for a council member to knowingly and willfully fail to disclose, or to falsely disclose, any financial interest as required by the MSA, or to knowingly vote on a council decision in violation of the MSA.
NOAA Fisheries published a final rule with changes to the regulations that address procedures to make determinations on voting recusals of council members appointed to the eight Regional Fishery Management Councils. The councils are key partners in the regional, science-based, and transparent fishery management process.
The Regional Council system was designed to allow regional, participatory governance by knowledgeable people with a stake in fishery management. These regulatory changes provide guidance to ensure consistency and transparency in the calculation of a council member’s financial interests, determine whether a close causal link exists between a council decision and a benefit to a council member’s financial interest, and to establish regional procedures for preparing and issuing recusal determinations.
The final rule was published in the Federal Register on September 11, 2020.
What is the purpose of this disclosure requirement?
The purpose of filing this statement is to assist the member in avoiding conflicts of interest between official duties and private financial interests or affiliations.
Can these disclosures affect council voting?
Yes. Council members may not vote on any council decision that would have a significant and predictable effect on a financial interest disclosed in the form. Members may still participate in council deliberations. A “significant and predictable effect on a financial interest” exists if an expected and substantially disproportionate benefit to the member’s financial interest is closely linked to the council decision. For more detail, please see our page on Financial Disclosure frequently asked questions.
When do council nominees or council members need to file a Statement of Financial Interests Form?
Council nominees must file this form with the NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator by April 15th or, if nominated outside of the annual appointment process, 1 month after nomination by the governor.
After appointment by the Secretary, a voting council member must file this form with their council’s executive director within 45 days of the start of their term (e.g., September 25th for terms beginning on August 11th).
All council members must file this form with their council’s executive director by February 1st each year, regardless of whether any information on the form has changed. Additionally, all council members must file an update with their council’s executive director within 30 days of the time any financial interest is acquired or substantially changed.
When do members of Science and Statistical Committees need to file a Statement of Financial Interests Form?
Nominees to an SSC must file this form with the Regional Administrator within 45 days prior to appointment. They must file an update with the Regional Administrator within 30 days of the time any financial interest is acquired or substantially changed. All SSC members must file this form annually by February 1st regardless of whether any information on the form has changed.