BOSTON (AP) -- October 6, 2012 -- The law that governs the nation’s fisheries was passed 36 years ago to oust foreign boats working in U.S. waters. Today, New England fishermen wonder if it will soon oust them.
Because of certain controversial mandates in the law, the fishermen face colossal cuts in how much they’re allowed to catch in 2013. Lawmakers are pushing a $100 million aid package just to sustain the fleet.
The law has become ‘‘an impediment to keeping the fishing industry alive,’’ said Scituate fisherman Frank Mirachi
Drew Minkiewicz, a former U.S. Senate staffer who worked on the 2007 fishery law reauthorization, recalled the push to ‘‘immediately’’ end overfishing came amid concerns regulators were forever delaying needed cuts.
The change requires, and enforces, precisely determined catch limits during a fish’s rebuilding period. But scientific projections of the health of some stocks have since proven way off, and painful adjustments were needed to keep the fish in its rebuilding track.
For instance, scientists believed in 2008 that Gulf of Maine cod stocks were robust. Today, cod’s recovery is seen as so weak that the huge cut became unavoidable.
‘‘There was a lot more confidence in the science than there should have been, that is fair to say,’’ Minkiewicz said.
Among the estimated cuts next year: 72 percent to Gulf of Maine cod, 70 percent to Georges Bank cod and 51 percent to Georges Bank yellowtail flounder.
But several species in line for the biggest cuts have actually grown since 2007, fisheries scientist Steve Cadrin noted. The Gulf of Maine cod, for instance, has ticked up from about 10,800 metric tons worth of spawning age fish in 2007 to 11,900 metric tons in 2010.
He also finds absurdity in regulations designed to save the industry that could actually enact industry-killing cuts.
‘‘You've now come full circle, and it’s not making sense anymore,’’ said Cadrin, a University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth researcher.
Read the full story by the Associated Press in the Boston Globe