Attorneys from Conservation Law Foundation and Earthjustice filed a pair of lawsuits today in the federal district court challenging recent decisions by the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding New England groundfish.
The first lawsuit challenges NMFS's plan to open several groundfish conservation areas in New England that have been closed, in some cases, for decades to commercial fishing for cod, haddock, and flounder.
The second suit challenges a plan to boost 2013 catch limits for several New England groundfish stocks beyond the allowable science-based limits by "carrying over" ten percent of the catch quota from 2012 that fishermen were unable to catch.
With regard to these closed area openings and increased catch limits, Peter Shelley, senior counsel with CLF who has worked to protect New England groundfish for 20 years, said, "Cod are in the worst condition ever in the history of New England fishing and probably getting worse. Fishing on cod should be closed down, not expanded into new areas. The failure of the federal government to adequately respond to this crisis is going to start rippling through all the fisheries, even the healthy ones."
The industrial groundfish fleet lobbied NMFS hard to increase catch limits and open closed areas despite the continuing decades-long management failure to recover several cod and flounder stocks. The five areas at risk total over 5,000 square miles and include Cashes Ledge, an underwater mountain range that houses varied and critical ocean habitats from kelp forests to mussel beds to productive mud plains.
Read the full story at Cape Cod Online>>