National Fisherman

Managing to survive

New Englanders are determined to wait out groundfish recovery — one way or the other

By Linc Bedrosian

Groundfishing off New England isn't easy, and it hasn't been for more than a decade. Federal stock rebuilding mandates have triggered increasingly severe fishing restrictions and eroded to a precious few the number of days harvesters can fish each year.

Lagging cod and yellowtail flounder populations have resisted man-made rebuilding timetables. Fishermen, envisioning ever-deeper cuts in their harvests under the current regime, feel compelled to develop alternative management proposals. Nonetheless, the New England Fishery Management Council, now developing the 16th amendment to its fishery management plan for cod and 18 other species, voted in June to focus on adjusting its long-standing days-at-sea regime as needed to meet stock rebuilding demands for 2009.

However, this will not preclude the development of so-called fishing sectors as part of the amendment, a sector being a group of permit holders who receive and manage an allocation of fish.

Indeed, the 19 sector proposals submitted to the council for consideration suggest that despite New England's well-known disdain of quota programs, some harvesters are concluding that there may be no other way out.

"It's the logical business response to an impossible regulatory situation," says Robin Alden, executive director of the Penobscot East Resource Center, in Stonington, Maine. "It doesn't mean it's the right thing for either the fish or the communities."

Meanwhile, the council moved to initiate a 17th amendment to continue development of two more management alternatives, area management of groundfish stocks (which Alden champions) and a point system that would provide an incentive to fish on healthy stocks. The council's immediate focus is on getting Amendment 16 ready to be implemented by May 2009 and then diving into Amendment 17 with the intent of having it ready by May 2010, according to Pat Fiorelli, the council's public affairs officer.

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 3/10/15

In this episode, Online Editor Leslie Taylor talks with Mike McLouglin, vice president of Dunlop Industrial and Protective Footwear.

National Fisherman Live: 2/24/15

In this episode:

March date set for disaster aid dispersal
Oregon LNG project could disrupt fishing
NOAA tweaks gear marking requirement
N.C. launches first commercial/recreational dock
Spiny lobster traps limits not well received

Inside the Industry

NMFS announced two changes in regulations that apply to federal fishing permit holders starting Aug. 26.

First, they have eliminated the requirement for vessel owners to submit “did not fish” reports for the months or weeks when their vessel was not fishing.

Some of the restrictions for upgrading vessels listed on federal fishing permits have also been removed.

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Alaskans will meet with British Columbia’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Bill Bennett, when he visits Juneau next week and will ask him to support an international review of mine developments in northwest British Columbia, upstream from Southeast Alaska along the Taku, Stikine and Unuk transboundary rivers.

Some Alaska fishing and environmental groups believe an international review is the best way to develop specific, binding commitments to ensure clean water, salmon, jobs and traditional and customary practices are not harmed by British Columbia mines and that adequate financial assurances are in place up front to cover long-term monitoring and compensation for damages.

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