Written by Linc Bedrosian
Saturday, 31 December 2011
Welcome aboard, Baby New Year! Look, I know you're not on the job just yet, but if it'll help get you ready for the next 365 days, let me offer you some suggestions that would help U.S. fishermen enjoy your reign.
Let's start with Northeast groundfishermen. Low cod numbers have driven groundfish management for a long time now, Baby New Year, and in the process crippled New England's historic fleet. So anything you can do to get the cod to get busy with the procreating would be greatly appreciated.
While you're at it, encourage our Congressional delegates to approve bills that have been introduced that aim to relax Magnuson-Stevens Act stock rebuilding timelines so that fishermen and regulators alike get a little more breathing room. And maybe get them to require better and more frequent stock assessments, too. More accurate data can only lead to better fisheries management.
How about showing little love for our fishing brethren in the Gulf of Mexico? Over the last six years, they've been plagued by a deluge of seafood imports, hurricanes, floods and a massive oil spill. I don't know how much you do about the imports and oil spills, but if you could chat with Mother Nature and ask her to ease up on the weather-related disasters, it'd be a step in the right direction.
I'm sure West Coast harvesters would be ever so grateful if Pacific salmon and groundfish stocks grow healthier, too. A strong squid season would be nice, and your popularity will soar if you can arrange for a Dungeness crab season that is strike-free and devoid of protracted price negotiations. As for the Alaska fisheries, they're doing well. All you really need to do is stay the course there.
Lastly, plant a seed in the minds of the folks at NOAA to ease back on the throttle where catch share management programs are concerned. Pushing programs that eliminate jobs instead of creating them isn't sound strategy, especially in the presidential election year you're presiding over, Baby New Year.
I could go on, but I don't want to overwhelm you — you're an infant, after all. Allow me to wish you the best of success, Baby New Year, and all U.S. fishermen and their families a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2012.
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