Bill Karp, director of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, should have a chance later this week to bridge some fundamental gaps in trust and credibility when he delivers a report on NOAA Fisheries’ stock assessment process and scientific models program.
To his credit, he concedes the enormous disconnect between what NOAA Fisheries has found in its stock assessments and what fishermen see every day on the water is a significant problem.
Lest he wonder, fishermen aren’t the only ones who question how NOAA’s most recent stock assessments have turned up low numbers of Gulf of Maine cod and other species, when those working on the water were comfortably able to catch their limits right up to NOAA’s latest shutdown of inshore fishing grounds in November. Just 10 days after his election, Gov. Charlie Baker, meeting fishermen in Gloucester, noted the same concern.
But if Karp expects to make any serious headway toward restoring his center’s credibility with fishermen, lawmakers and others, there is one key place he can start. That’s assuring all sides that any future assessments will include significant input from the fishermen whose life work remains the subject of any such science center studies and the excessive federal catch limits, closures and other regulations that spring from them.
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