Written by Jen Finn
December 21, 2012
I nearly always attend New England Fishery Management Council meetings in person, but last month, I was unable to attend the meeting in Newport, and instead listened to the proceedings online. I found that listening, and not physically being there, gives you a different perspective on a meeting. You hear more intently. There are fewer distractions. Examples seem clearer. Patterns emerge.
There are some predictable patterns in life. When there is an accident, at the end of the traffic jam you find a police officer. When you go to a restaurant, at the end of dinner the bill comes. And when you attend a fisheries management council meeting that is dealing with a crisis, there is usually a bad stock assessment.
Bad stock assessments have become as predictable as the sunrise.
In Newport, a long and difficult discussion took place to determine how next year's miniscule limit of yellowtail flounder would be divided between the scallop fleet and the groundfish fleet. Eventually a decision was made. But wait! It turns out there is another fishery — whiting — asking for a share of the allegedly non-existent yellow tail flounder.
When there is good science, the industry will agree to a cut. Just a week ago, NOAA closed an area to scalloping with the support of the industry. The reason is because for over a decade, a survey conducted under the direction of Dr. Kevin Stokesbury at the UMass School for Marine Science and Technology has been performed in cooperation with fishermen using actual scallop vessels. Fishermen believe those results. In the yellowtail survey, fishermen don't even believe government scientists are using the right equipment to catch bottom-dwelling flat fish.
Read the full story at the Standard-Times>>
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