Peter Baker, manager of Pew Environment Group's New England Fisheries campaign, today issued the following statement in response to the National Marine Fisheries Service announcement of its Final Interim Rule for managing groundfish (including cod, haddock and flounder) in New England for the 2009 fishing year.
"The National Marine Fisheries Service rule on managing groundfish, which was announced today, is a step forward toward achieving the necessary transformation of the New England fishery to a catch-based management system using sectors in 2010. Although the rule does not try to end overfishing in 2009, it lays the groundwork for the changes needed to accomplish this in 2010. This rule gives the fishing industry some breathing room while it restructures the current days-at-sea system into sectors, which are fishermen-run community-based cooperatives. Sectors provide fishermen with the flexibility to set their own guidelines at the local level so they can run their businesses more efficiently and profitably, while still respecting catch limits.
"With this action, the service is supporting the work of the New England Fishery Management Council in its task of implementing sectors at the start of the 2010 fishing year next May.
"This Final Interim Rule signals a needed commitment to working with the council, the fishing industry and conservation interests to end overfishing, rebuild depleted fish stocks and promote a sustainable, more profitable fishing industry in New England. While the current situation offers few easy answers, this rule moves the industry away from the failed days-at-sea management system toward a sector management system with science-based annual catch limits and accountability through monitoring.
"Sector co-op proposals from 17 fishing groups have already been submitted to the council, but in the transition period, other fishermen will continue to operate under the old days-at-sea system. These fishermen will be in a common pool, and it is imperative that hard catch limits be put in place for them in 2010, as well as for sectors."
View the Interim Rule (PDF)
View the NOAA press release.