July 21, 2014
The New England Fishery Management Council takes a different position from the one expressed in the July 1 editorial (“Frightening waste of fish”), as well as those reported in recent publications about wasteful fisheries bycatch and the related costs to fishermen and society.
The authors of those reports, staff from the international environmental advocacy organization Oceana, addressed important topics that all fisheries managers face. But there are numerous errors and inaccuracies in the Oceana report — so many that the eight regional fishery management councils, established by federal statute in 1976, collectively put together remarks that discuss the shortcomings of Oceana’s publication. The letter is posted on the New England Council’s website at FMCs letter to Oceana.
It may be helpful for readers to know that the U.S. fishery councils are charged by law to “prevent overfishing, rebuild overfished stocks, facilitate long-term protection of essential fish habitats and to realize the full potential of the nation’s fishery resources.” The councils are also charged with minimizing bycatch.
While no one disputes that problems remain in our fisheries, Oceana grossly misleads the public by lumping U.S. problems in the same report with global bycatch issues. Additionally, the fishery councils, after comparing the bycatch report’s statements with core reference documents developed with the support of the federal fishery science centers, raised their serious concerns directly to Oceana about substantial errors, omissions and organizational approaches that are problematic throughout the publication.
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