Written by Linc Bedrosian
February 3, 2012
Consider the New England Fishery Management Council's decision this week to recommend cutting northeast cod harvests for the upcoming 2012 fishery by 15 to 20 percent another good reason for fishermen to attend the Wednesday, March 21 "Keep Fishermen Fishing" rally in Washington, D.C.
That would represent a cut of between 6,700 and 7,500 metric tons from the already conservative 2011 total. How many businesses could withstand a 15 to 20 percent drop in their production?
And yet, the cut isn't as bad as it could've been. Given the dire (and controversial) 2011 cod stock assessments, it could've been as much as a 90 percent slash, which would have been disastrous for the groundfish industry. So while a 15 to 20 percent harvest cut hurts, it at least allows the fishery to continue for a year while fishermen and managers alike try to figure out a way out of the regulatory mess that managing groundfish has become.
For more than 15 years, cod has been sore spot in what has largely been a successful effort to rebuild the region's groundfish stocks. But since the cod population hasn't reached levels NMFS says is needed for the stock to be considered healthy and sustainable by 2014, as mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the groundfish fleet's future is in jeopardy.
The arbitrary 10-year rebuilding timeline set forth in Magnuson-Stevens is the problem. And the fishermen's rally in the nation's capitol is a prime opportunity to broadcast the need for Congress to support legislation that aims to amend Magnuson and give the federal fisheries management law greater flexibility.
To learn more about the rally and bus transportation to Washington, D.C., visit the Keep Fishermen Fishing website www.keepfishermenfishing.com or call (888) 564-6732.
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