The Pew Environment Group commends the New England Fishery Management Council for its hard work in shepherding New England's 400-year old groundfish industry into a new era of management. The new plan, which will manage fishing for cod, haddock, flounders and other so-called groundfish, was finalized over two solid days of discussion and deliberation. The plan's approval ushered in sector allocation, approved 19 fishermen-run, community-based cooperatives, and signaled an end to the failed days-at-sea system.
“For the first time the New England Fishery Management Council has voted to manage the groundfish fishery with scientifically based annual catch limits that will put an end to overfishing through the use of a hard total allowable catch,” says Peter Baker, New England fisheries campaign manager for the Pew Environment Group. “Implemented correctly, this action could end overfishing, rebuild fish stocks and allow New England's historic groundfish fishermen to regain profitability. This is a huge step forward.”
“The new sector system will allow fishermen to run their businesses more efficiently because they will know what their share of the catch is and can plan their fishing accordingly,” continues Baker. “By protecting the livelihood of fishermen while groundfish stocks are being rebuilt, this plan can sustain our fishing communities and promise a continuing supply of local seafood to consumers.”
Sectors for 2010 are voluntary and many fishing vessels have not signed up to participate and will remain in the so-called “common pool,” fishing under the old days-at-sea system with trip limits and time constraints. The Council voted to manage the common pool with a hard total allowable catch beginning in 2012, creating a fair playing field for sectors and the common pool.
The Council will now send its final Amendment 16 document to the National Marine Fisheries Service for approval.