Too few fish monitors, lawsuit contends

NEW BEDFORD — The environmental group Oceana Inc. filed suit against Northeast fishing regulators Tuesday, accusing them of putting too few monitors on fishing boats to accurately understand what is going on, endangering the fish.

Monitors have been a sore point in the dealings between fishermen and NOAA Fisheries. They are expensive, several hundred dollars per day, and often inexperienced at both counting fish and being on a fishing boat in the open sea.

But the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires the monitors so the National Marine Fisheries Service can make certain that boats aren’t misreporting the “bycatch” that is discarded.

Gib Brogan, Oceana’s representative in Boston, said fishermen fish differently when monitors are on board, yet only 22 percent of boats in the groundfish fleet have them.

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