Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Thursday, 02 December 2010
It's rare these days that a move by NMFS brings clarity and reason to the New England groundfish fishery.
However, yesterday the service did just that.
After banning midwater herring trawlers from groundfish spawning areas and then allowing them back into those areas with a gaping loophole that permitted the boats to dump catches before the observers could inspect them, NMFS has reached a happy medium.
The decision, the result of a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice, will allow midwater trawlers to fish the grounds, provided their catch — every catch — is observed and documented.
"This rule will make it so midwater trawlers fishing in Closed Area I are held to rigorous standards like those that groundfish fishermen face every day," Ben Martens, policy analyst for the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association, told the Provincetown (Mass.) Banner.
The only remaining loophole is simply the time it may take to act if it is observed that the trawlers are indeed catching too many cod in this critical habitat.
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