Peter Baker, manager of the Pew Environment Group's New England Fisheries Campaign, today issued the following statement in response to the most recent stock assessment of New England groundfish (including cod, haddock and flounder) from the Third Groundfish Assessment Review Meeting:
“This stock assessment shows that current efforts to rebuild New England's groundfish populations are not working.
“Groundfish stocks are managed by limiting the amount of time fishermen can spend at sea. But under this system, known as ‘days-at-sea,' many fish populations have collapsed and local fishing communities have experienced massive revenue declines. As a result, many traditional New England fishing communities have been forced by economics out of the groundfish fishery. It's time for a change.
“Groups of fishermen in New England, led by the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association and the Midcoast (Maine) Fishermen's Association, have promoted a new way to manage groundfish. Known as sector management, this new system allows fishermen to create rules relevant to the specific fish they catch, but also requires them to abide by science-based annual catch limits. The new system is an improvement since it provides accountability to rebuild fish populations while allowing flexibility for fishermen.
“It's time to end the failed ‘days-at-sea' management system and empower fishermen to rebuild fish stocks so their businesses can be profitable once again.”
To view the stock assessment, go to http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/nefsc/publications/crd/crd0815/.