Written by Linc Bedrosian
Friday, 27 April 2012
Back in the late 1960s, the Los Angeles Rams defensive line was known as "The Fearsome Foursome." Hall of Famer Dick Butkus, the Chicago Bears middle linebacker, reportedly called the Rams' line of Rosey Grier, Merlin Olsen, Lamar Lundy and Deacon Jones the most dominant defensive line in football history.
They left plenty of NFL quarterbacks bruised and battered. These days, another Fearsome Foursome — cod, yellowtail flounder, Atlantic sturgeon and harbor porpoises —is causing New England fishermen plenty of pain.
Increasingly stringent regulations driven by cod's stubborn refusal to meet federal population thresholds have long been a thorn in fishermen's side. And thanks to a controversial 2011 stock assessment, fishermen must contend with a 20 percent catch limit reduction for Gulf of Maine cod stocks for 2012. Even greater cuts may loom in 2013.
Meanwhile, fishermen must also deal with an 80 percent slash of the total allowable catch for 2012 for Georges Bank yellowtail flounder, which swim along with more valuable commercial species. Recent data indicating diminishing yellowtail numbers fueled the decision to cut the catch limit from the 1,140 metric tons given last year to 218 metric tons for 2012.
Add to the cod and yellowtail cuts NMFS' announcement of a shutdown of prime Gulf of Maine pollock grounds in October and November to gillnets to reduce harbor porpoise deaths. Bycatch rates for the federally protected porpoises exceed thresholds set under a 2010 management plan, the agency says, thus triggering the two-month closure.
Last but not least is the prospect of restrictions that would aim to protect Gulf of Maine Atlantic sturgeon stocks, which NOAA designated as "threatened" earlier this year. The New England council discussed the possibility of developing sturgeon protection measures this week that could impact sink gillnet operations.
Like many a great quarterback, New England fishermen keep getting knocked down by formidable opponents, but they find it within themselves to keep getting back up again. The trick will be for them to continue to find a way to stay in the game.
The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:
The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.Read more...
Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.
Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.Read more...