Seeking creative solutions

The Groundfish Industry Rally at the Boston Fish Pier on April 29 did a good job of reminding the troops that the fight for the industry’s future isn’t over yet. The rally let fishermen know that the region’s federal, state and local officials will continue to fight on their behalf. But industry leaders know that rallies alone won’t bring about change.

To that end, Rep. William Keating (D-Mass.), and New Bedford, Mass. Mayor Jon Mitchell are inviting industry members to attend a joint meeting of the Federal Fishery Advisory Board and the Mayor’s Ocean and Fisheries Council on Monday, May 13 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum from 1 to 3 p.m. Meeting topics will include potential improvements to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which is due to expire in September.

“The reality before us, as we discussed in detail at the most recent meeting of the Federal Fishing Advisory Board and as we again highlighted at Monday’s rally, is that a ‘perfect storm’ of external factors has put the livelihoods of this historic industry at risk of extinction,” states a letter from Keating and Mitchell announcing the meeting. “What the industry needs now are creative solutions to a complex crisis.”

It has devised such solutions before. The region’s scallop fishery is thriving today in no small part as a result of the industry’s work with the University of Massachusetts School of Marine Science and Technology to devise a way to film scallop abundance. Now it’s happening again. The university is helping the groundfish industry by developing a prototype for counting fish in the ocean using a net outfitted with a video camera. 

The May 13 joint meeting could foster equally creative solutions. And Keating and Mitchell want the fishing community’s input to make it happen.

To RSVP to attend the meeting, email Brian Rothschild, co-director of the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute, at brothschild@umassd.edu.

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