Finding their voice

However, the work of Northeast fishermen and politicians to revise U.S. fisheries management policy is no joke. And it’s gaining serious momentum.

Let’s take stock of what we’ve seen over the last few weeks. The Commerce Department made a surprising about-face regarding fisheries enforcement. Where previously NOAA refused to hear fishermen’s complaints, the Commerce Department announced it would review appeals of enforcement penalties after all. And it’s implementing new practices designed to address problems listed in a federal report concerning enforcement practices.

Commerce has also announced plans to visit New England fishing ports to examine the economic wounds catch share management has inflicted upon fishermen and their communities. And next week, New Bedford, Mass., Mayor Scott Lang’s Ocean and Fisheries Council travels to Washington, D.C., for an informational meeting to be held in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Room.

The meeting, expected to attract industry supporters from the Gulf of Mexico and the West Coast as well as a bi-partisan mix of Senate and House members, will outline industry concerns with fisheries management policy.

Fishermen’s efforts to gain the ear of their Congressional delegates and affect change indicate that fishermen do indeed have a voice. And if they yell loud enough and long enough with that voice, they can restore balance to fisheries management.

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