Written by Adrianne Madden
December 18, 2009
Like manna from heaven, a few ideas for improving U.S. fisheries management have miraculously popped into my head.
So what are these momentous thoughts that have wound their way into my wee pea brain? I'm glad you asked.
Well, for one, while adding flexibility to the Magnuson–Stevens stock rebuilding timetable (as proposed in House and Senate bills now wending their way through Congress) is a great idea, it's only a start. It should also be amended to give greater weight than Magnuson currently does to the socioeconomic consequences of proposed regulations upon fisheries and coastal communities.
Here's another thought. When, as seen recently in the Northeast herring and scallop fisheries, harvest quotas are significantly slashed because regulators must take into account uncertainty about the scientific data used to set catch limits, something must change.
It's not enough to be satisfied that the data being generated is "the best available science," and then require managers to take scientific uncertainty into account — basically because they're afraid the data is weak. Trying to manage fisheries without solid scientific data is a big problem.
And it's up to Congress to fix that problem. If saving the oceans is as big a priority as our federal officials say it is, then it's time Congress properly funded fish stock assessments.
Whining that Congress can't possibly set aside money in a down economy to fund fisheries research is forbidden. The tough economic times don't seem to be slowing spending down in Washington for anything else. Hence there's no reason not to pony up for something as vital as stock assessments that would greatly improve the quality of fisheries management.
There you have it. You offer me a penny for my thoughts, and I give you my two cents worth.
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