But new rules for the 2010 season approved at November’s New England Fishery Management Council meeting (though NMFS must still give final approval) could slash scallopers’ revenue by 25 percent. Despite a healthy, well-managed and monitored scallop resource, the total allowable harvest will be lower because regulators are required to factor in “scientific uncertainty” about population numbers when setting the harvest limit.
Furthermore, days at sea will be cut from 38 to 29. And the number of trips to restricted access areas will decline from five to four.
Given all this, scallopers say they could be facing a 25 percent cut in their revenue next year. Roy Enoksen, president of New Bedford, Mass.-based Eastern Fisheries, which operates 23 scallop boats, told the New Bedford Standard-Times this week http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091201/NEWS/912010355/1018/OPINION the changes translate into a loss of $250,000 to $300,000 per vessel.
The scallop industry will survive the cuts. But in a down economy, they sure don’t help.
Hence, it’s all the more perplexing that Magnuson-Stevens Act requirements force regulators to largely ignore socioeconomic factors that could give fishery managers greater leeway and mitigate the hit fishermen would take in these tough economic times.
Perhaps persistent industry prodding could convince our esteemed congressmen and senators to amend Magnuson-Stevens to give regulators that flexibility. I’m inclined to believe they’d be sympathetic to the cause. After all, how do you think they’d react to any attempts to cut politicians’ income by 25 percent?