DANVERS — There are, apparently, no straight lines in fisheries management.
The New England Fishery Management Council kicked off its three days of meetings here Monday and quickly fell victim to its own process, as council members debated which issues deserved to be on its list of 2014 priorities.
The ensuing debate, which stretched well past the morning session for which it was budgeted, included some parliamentary twists and turns that left council and audience members confused as to what motions actually were under discussion. Perhaps more telling, the council's convoluted deliberations provided a signature example of the complexities of managing a regional fishery with so many issues inherent in so many different species fished by fishermen from different states.
The council's deliberations on priorities also cast a white- hot light on the reality of the council's limited resources in the face of the myriad of issues across so many geographic and economic lines.
Council Executive Director Tom Nies repeatedly reminded council members that the list of 2014 priorities is not so much limited by the number of legitimate issues needing attention as it is by the level of staff and resources the council can apply in the coming year.
"With respect to staff, we're in a bit of a bind," Nies said. "We still don't know what our budget will be in 2014. The only way we can get these things done is by juggling staff resources between them. We're going to have to shuffle back and forth a little bit."
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