Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Friday, 11 September 2009
JHathaway2 A year and a half ago, I was standing in the hallway of the Rhode Island Convention Center discussing with the late Phil Ruhle Sr. the pitfalls of establishing groundfish catch shares.
I will never forget the voracity with which he attempted to plead the case of so many fishermen who were arguing at a recent New England Fishery Council Meeting that their catches were not recorded correctly and would, therefore, negatively affect their catch shares under the new program.
Today we find out that NMFS regional administrator Pat Kurkul has admitted to errors in the agency's data recording.
While I applaud Kurkul for beginning what I can only hope is an era of improved communication between the federal agency and the industry it regulates, I am disappointed in her attempt to spread the blame.
According to the Gloucester (Mass.) Daily Times, Kurkul wrote in 2007, "Given the amount of data we receive and process each year, currently exceeding 1 million records, errors do occur on both the reporting side by the fishing industry and on processing the reports submitted.
"The responsibility for ensuring that we do have this information rests on both parties."
Well, I'm pretty sure plenty of fishermen were saying almost two years ago that the data was wrong. Yet, the catch shares for 2010 are set.
Once again, the onus is on the fishermen to be the watchdogs of their own federal agency.
If you think your catch history is incorrect, you won't find relief for next May. But make sure you have your complaint in writing to NMFS by Oct. 31 for correction by the 2011 season.
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