GLOUCESTER — The final word fell to Gloucester fisherman Paul Vitale, the last speaker of the day at the fisheries listening session on the reauthorization of Magnuson-Stevens, held yesterday at City Hall and organized by U.S. Rep. John Tierney.
Up to that point, Tierney and his House colleague, Oregon Democrat Peter DeFazio, had been treated to many of the same comments and critiques of U.S. fisheries management that have papered the debate since the current version of the Magnuson-Stevens Act was signed into law in 2006.
Vitale, though, found a way to distill the dull screed of science and public policy into a compelling and easily understood analysis of where the current version of Magnuson-Stevens fails the people who make their living harvesting wildlife from U.S. waters — especially those fishing in the Northeast multi-species groundfish fishery.
“How many businesses could survive an 80 percent reduction in the amount of things they can produce and sell?” Vitale said of the cuts imposed by NOAA in the annual quotas for the allowable catch for cod and other groundfish. “An 80 percent reduction is obscene. They think they’re saving the fish. Who are they saving them for?”