Scallopers facing 30 percent catch reduction, but opening certain areas might offset cuts
NEW BEDFORD -- September 19, 2012 -- The scallop catch could be cut up to 30 percent in each of the next two years in what fishermen say would be a heavy blow to the industry.
Deirdre Boelke, a scallop plan coordinator with the New England Fishery Management Council, said the reductions are needed because fewer full-grown scallops are available for harvest.
"The projected catch for 2013 and 2014 is in the neighborhood of 40 million pounds," Boelke told The Standard-Times after a meeting of the council's Scallop Oversight Committee in New Bedford on Tuesday. That's down from just under 57 million pounds in 2011, the latest full-year figures available.
The proposed cuts could be offset if scallop fishermen are permitted to fish in other areas of the Northeast, known as habitat areas, that are currently off limits, industry figures say.
"Thirty percent of the biomass is tied up in those closed areas," said scalloper Joe Gilbert, of Stonington, Conn., who attended Tuesday's meeting.
"They should have opened the Northern Edge 10 years ago," Canastra said of a restricted area on Georges Bank.
That proposal has some support and will be reviewed, said Boelke. "We have forwarded the council a request to look into the most expeditious way to get fishing into those areas," she said. There are an estimated 46 million pounds of scallops available for harvest within those areas, Boelke said.
Read the full story at the New Bedford Standard Times