Statement of Peter Baker of the Pew Environment Group and Director of the Herring Alliance on the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) Voting to Protect Atlantic Herring
The NEFMC today voted to protect an important regional resource by overhauling the Atlantic herring fishery. Atlantic herring are a vital forage fish providing a source of nourishment for tuna, haddock, cod, striped bass and whiting. They also constitute a staple in the diet of seabirds, whales, seals and dolphins.
"We know it wasn't easy, but the council made an important decision today to fix the Atlantic herring fishery. In response to more than 10,000 public comments, the most the council has ever received, regional fishery managers did the right thing by putting science and sustainability first.
"For years, New Englanders and local fishermen have been calling for the protection of this vital resource. The council finally accepted the challenge by making Atlantic herring a top priority in 2008.
"The council showed strong leadership by agreeing to revamp herring management. In doing so, our regional fishery managers will promote healthy oceans and a sustainable, profitable groundfish and tuna industry. In addition, today's vote will help protect the future of New England's whale, porpoise, and sea bird populations that all rely on herring for a major part of their diet."
The action the NEFMC takes in 2008 must address three critical areas:
- accountability for what the industrial mid-water trawl fleet catches and
what it dumps (bycatch)
- protecting inshore waters and marine ecosystems from industrial mid-water
trawling through the use of buffer zones
- accounting for how much predators, such as whales, cod, tuna and striped
bass need to eat when setting catch levels