Legislators push to block drastic cuts in Northeast

Five Massachusetts legislators are standing up to a recent decision to block further temporary steps to circumvent extreme cuts in groundfishing quotas for 2013.

As it stands, catch limits on Gulf of Maine cod could be slashed by between 76.8 and 82.6 per cent starting on 1 May, and the haddock quota would also be dramatically cut.

Democratic Senators John Kerry and Elizabeth Warren and Democratic Representatives John Tierney, Edward Markey and William Keating wrote a letter to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Regional Administrator John Bullard about his decision late last week, claiming that unlike what he stated, the Magnuson-Stevens Act actually does allow for more than a year of interim relief, and that the economic disaster declaration in the Northeast fishery by the Commerce secretary in September 2012 makes taking action a priority.

“I don’t foresee that we’re going to change our decision and, even if we did, it doesn’t change the biology,” Bullard responded, The Standard-Times reports.

“Interim measures don’t create any fish. They don’t change the situation that we’re looking at — a depleted fish stock — and the measures we’re going to have to take to rebuild those stocks,” he continued.

In the letter, the legislators asked that Bullard “immediately provide a plan detailing actions you will take to mitigate the adverse economic impacts of these harvest reductions.”

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