Peter Baker, manager of Pew Environment Group's Atlantic Herring campaign and director of the Herring Alliance, issued the following statement today in response to the New England Fishery Management Council's decision Tuesday to delay the final vote on new management measures for the Atlantic herring fishery.
"It is unfortunate that the Council has again delayed moving forward with a plan for a comprehensive monitoring program for the industrial midwater trawl fleet. It is important to get it right, and we urge the Council to take this time to fully address key pieces missing from its current work, such as putting a hard limit on river herring bycatch, creating protection measures for spawning sea herring, prohibiting this fleet's access to groundfish closed areas and closing existing loopholes in the fishery's monitoring protocols.
"In other U.S. fisheries with this size vessel and gear, for instance, 100 percent of vessels always have an observer on board. It is time to get the New England herring trawl fleet up to the same standards as other parts of the country.
"The Council has the responsibility to develop rules that implement important monitoring and bycatch measures to minimize this industrial fishery's impact on New England's marine ecosystem and the many other species affected by its massive gear. We urge the Council to step up and deliver on these important issues."