NEFMC recommends reopening non-critical areas; Conservation Law Foundation and Pew object
PLYMOUTH, Mass. -- September 27, 2012 -- Amid a fishery disaster, there was a glimmer of hope for New England fishermen today when the full New England Fishery Management Council approved a motion to allow groundfishermen access to large areas off-limits to fishing.
The areas under discussion include portions of Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine that are not considered critical fish habitat areas.
Cuts to the allowable catch for declining species such as cod and yellowtail flounder, scheduled to take effect May 1, threaten to force many fishermen out of business. Giving fishermen access to the closed areas would allow them to target other stocks such as pollock, redfish and haddock that are more abundant.
However a number of conservation groups spoke against the proposal. "We will fight this strenuously," said Peter Shelley, senior counsel for the Conservation Law Foundation who argued that the move violated the National Environmental Policy Act. "This proposal was developed explicitly to avoid environmental review," he said.
Peter Baker, fisheries director for the Pew Environment Group was also opposed, saying it would entangle the fishing industry in lawsuits that could prevent any boats from fishing.
"You'll see boats tied to the dock on May 1," he predicted.
Read the story by Don Cuddy in the New Bedford Standard-Times
June 16, 2013 -- Constructive discussion will come from improving data collection procedures, understanding the role of the ocean environment, using techniques to manage the entire mix of stocks using simpler techniques, and working with fishermen as management partners.
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