HARTFORD COURANT: Troubled Waters: Fisheries Need Serious Help
HARTFORD, Conn. -- September 28, 2012 -- The fleet's future is at stake following a decision by the federal
Commerce Department to declare a fisheries disaster in New England
waters. The declaration raises the hope Congress will overhaul the
nation's nearly 40-year-old program to build sustainable fisheries
through sound management practices.
It's been a long time since fishermen lived along Water Street in the village of Stonington in southeastern Connecticut. The Stonington Dock and the Roman Catholic bishop's annual blessing of the fleet are among the few reminders to outsiders that a commercial fishing fleet still operates in the port, more conspicuous for its yachts.
The fleet's future is at stake following a decision by the federal Commerce Department to declare a fisheries disaster in New England waters. The declaration raises the hope Congress will overhaul the nation's nearly 40-year-old program to build sustainable fisheries through sound management practices.
The Commerce Department issued the finding based on dire projections in the stocks of several species of groundfish. The species make up a small part of business for this state's commercial fishermen. They have more urgent worries: rising water temperatures (temperatures in Long Island Sound rose so high this summer that Dominion Power Co. had to shut down one of its nuclear plants), unusually low levels of dissolved oxygen in the western end of the Sound and a vanishing lobster population.
Looming over all is the fear that climate change is disrupting the ecology of Long Island Sound, threatening familiar species and inviting in strangers. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy underscored this possibility when he joined other governors from the Northeast this summer in calling for the disaster declaration.
The next step is for Congress to come up with money. Some of it will be for disaster relief, mitigating the financial hardships to fishermen from steep reductions in fishing quotas. But just as important, the government needs devote funds to scrutinizing its approach to managing American fisheries, which fishermen argue is needlessly driving them out of business with nothing to show for it.
This can be the opportunity the Stonington fishermen have been looking for to avoid being squeezed out entirely from the picturesque fishing village they created.
May 16, 2013 -- SMAST associate professor for fisheries oceanography Steve Cadrin warns that, as easy as it is to blame everything on shifting populations or overfishing, the complexity of the ocean is nearly chaotic, and drawing useful conclusions requires making simplifying assumptions. One of those assumptions has always been that the environment was "fairly constant."
- An Open Letter to Federal Fishery Permit Holders in the Northeast Regarding Observers and At-Sea Monitors