WITH CODFISH at their lowest level in history, it is hard to give credence to fishermen and political leaders who believe New England's iconic catch would be just fine if only nosy researchers and regulators would get out of the way.
The New England Fishery Management Council has recommended emergency regulations to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the remainder of the 2014 fishing year and is considering more permanent measures that could cut the cod catch down to 1 percent of what it was two decades ago — or cut out codfishing altogether. The reaction, predictably, has been fierce as NOAA is expected to respond by next month.
In the Globe, the Gloucester Daily Times, and the Cape Cod Times, fishermen are again protesting that they will lose everything, with one calling further restrictions "premeditated murder" of inshore fleets. Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk has retreated to the decades-old default political stance of calling the science "questionable," declaring in a letter, "we cannot have any more direct hits on the Gloucester fishing community." This is after the region this spring received $32.8 million in federal disaster relief from prior restrictions. In Massachusetts, which received $14.5 million of the funds, then-Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan said, "We must protect the sustainability of our fishermen, and this financial assistance will help our fishing industry survive until the resource recovers and federal harvest regulations can be relaxed."
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