And now the government, which spurred the fleet’s unmanageable growth, is making it painfully hard for the remaining dedicated groundfish fleet to stay afloat, despite fishermen’s efforts to allow the cod to rebuild and a survey in 2008 that showed significant progress toward that goal. What do we do for farmers when drought destroys their corn crops? We prop them up. And we may do something similar for fishermen by declaring a federal disaster.
But fishermen don’t want to live on welfare. They want to work, and their reports indicate that cod is healthier than the most recent surveys show. The federal government should invest money at the top of the chain with research and data instead of declaring a disaster and throwing money at the bottom.
The New England Fishery Management Council will vote on the cuts in November for the 2013 season that starts on May 1. Fishermen can cross their fingers for a break, but their better hope may lie in Senate hearings this fall that will focus on allowing more flexibility in the Magnuson-Stevens Act.