09/28/2010 - The article "Increased quotas prove flexibility works" (Aug. 26) misrepresents Pew's support for the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's decision to increase the 2011 quota for summer flounder and the effectiveness of the current fisheries law itself.
The decision was based on the fact that the stock is now 89 percent rebuilt, thanks to a rebuilding plan put into place in 2000. This plan was required by the 1996 amendments to the federal law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), which governs ocean fish management.
As Pew has noted, scientists anticipate that summer flounder will be classified as fully rebuilt ahead of the 2013 deadline, when the 2009 year class — the largest since assessments began in 1983 — is included in the population size estimate.
Fishermen who love to catch this fish are now reaping the rewards of an increased quota, thanks to prior, effective management decisions that were based on the 1996 MSA amendments.
Yet the flexibility legislation now championed by the article would have yielded far worse results had it been in place. Rather than rebuilding as quickly as possible, managers would only have had to ensure a "positive trajectory."
This likely would have pushed summer flounder recovery off for decades, as federal fishery managers avoided making unpopular decisions. Thankfully, Congress rejected this idea in 2006 when it reauthorized the MSA, and it should continue to do so.
Lee Crockett, director, federal fisheries policy, Pew Environment Group