Only time will tell whether NOAA Fisheries’ agreement to reconsider some of its most draconian Gulf of Maine cod restrictions will prove a turning point in NOAA’s dealing with the fishing industry.

 

And one can argue that the move — coming in response to a Jan. 22 letter from Congressman Seth Moulton in support of a very viable fishing industry-based compromise — is one that NOAA’s Northeast administrator, John Bullard, should have given more credence when he flatly rejected it last month.

 

But Bullard and other NOAA officials at least deserve credit for their favorable response to Moulton’s letter asking for reconsideration.

 

Now we only hope that this overture leads Bullard and his colleagues to accept the alternative proposal that was largely crafted by Vito Giacalone, executive director of the Gloucester Fishing Community Fishing Partnership and those within Northeast Sector 4, one of several cooperative groups of fishermen working under NOAA’s catch share system. And let’s hope that NOAA’s response to Moulton and other lawmakers within the state’s congressional delegation signals a new era of cooperation and accountability on the agency’s part as well.

 

The reconsideration of the preservation fund and sector-based proposal gives new life to a plan that should throw a lifeline to Gloucester-based and other small-boat fishermen, while addressing Bullard’s cod preservation concerns alike.

 

It also closes the door on what one of the most downright frustrating NOAA-fishing clashes yet. That came in January, when Bullard essentially dismissed the alternative proposal on the basis that he and other NOAA officials simply didn’t have time to fully review it ad consider its implications.

 

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