National Fisherman


Attorneys from Conservation Law Foundation and Earthjustice filed a pair of lawsuits today in the federal district court challenging recent decisions by the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding New England groundfish.

The first lawsuit challenges NMFS's plan to open several groundfish conservation areas in New England that have been closed, in some cases, for decades to commercial fishing for cod, haddock, and flounder.

The second suit challenges a plan to boost 2013 catch limits for several New England groundfish stocks beyond the allowable science-based limits by "carrying over" ten percent of the catch quota from 2012 that fishermen were unable to catch.

With regard to these closed area openings and increased catch limits, Peter Shelley, senior counsel with CLF who has worked to protect New England groundfish for 20 years, said, "Cod are in the worst condition ever in the history of New England fishing and probably getting worse. Fishing on cod should be closed down, not expanded into new areas. The failure of the federal government to adequately respond to this crisis is going to start rippling through all the fisheries, even the healthy ones."

The industrial groundfish fleet lobbied NMFS hard to increase catch limits and open closed areas despite the continuing decades-long management failure to recover several cod and flounder stocks. The five areas at risk total over 5,000 square miles and include Cashes Ledge, an underwater mountain range that houses varied and critical ocean habitats from kelp forests to mussel beds to productive mud plains.

Read the full story at Cape Cod Online>>

Inside the Industry

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.

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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.

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