Groundfish trawler. (Photo: Carwyn Hammond/NOAA)
Legislators ask federal govt to help New England fishers
Tuesday, August 07, 2012, 03:30 (GMT + 9)
The new National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) preliminary report on fishing stocks in New England has caused concern among legislators. Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown along with Congressmen Barney Frank, John Tierney and William Keating issued a joint statement in response to the report calling the data “troubling” and citing the difficulties it may bring for fishers in the region.
The preliminary fish stock assessment showed that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) plan to rebuild cod, haddock and flounder and other groundfish fisheries could reduce the 2013 fish harvests by around 70 per cent. Compared to 2011 levels, Georges Bank yellowtail flounder is headed for a 93 per cent decline next year.
“We are extremely concerned about the recent NMFS report which included troubling information regarding potential declines in groundfish stocks in both Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine,” the legislators wrote.
“Those numbers suggest the possibility of further difficulties for fishermen and fishing communities in Massachusetts, specifically the small boat fishermen who can least bear the burden of additional declines in available fish.”
Kerry stressed that the cuts would have an "absolutely devastating" impact on fishers and the approximately 80,000 jobs that rely on the fishing industry in Massachusetts alone, Associated Press reports.
The letter states that the declines in groundfish numbers are not related to overfishing or due to the actions of fishers, but instead are linked to environmental and climate factors. The government thus ought to “take immediate action” to assist fishing communities and to improve fisheries management to ensure lucrative fisheries in the future.
Kerry noted that shifts in the projections by NMFS make it difficult for fishers to have “confidence” that the data is accurate, Newburyport News reports.
“In response to this information, we again ask that the federal government take immediate and decisive action to provide a disaster declaration for New England fishermen and fishing communities. For the past two years, the New England Congressional delegation and New England Governors have pushed the federal government to issue a disaster declaration. We believe the evidence is now overwhelming in favour of such a declaration,” the letter affirms.
The legislators also asked the federal government to provide emergency disaster assistance to New England fishers and their communities as they face any future declines in fishing related to the new information provided by NMFS.
In addition, the legislators asked for a meeting in Massachusetts with Acting Assistant Administrator Sam Rauch and stakeholders to review the new data, fishing allocation process and to decide on the options available for fishers and their communities.
- New England fishers will face additional quota cuts
- Yellowtail flounder quotas change for 2012
By Natalia Real
Photo Courtesy of FIS Member National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA/NMFS