The Boston Globe ran a strong editorial on the cod crisis, yesterday, calling for new thinking and stronger conservation in the Gulf of Maine fishing industry. For a fishing community that has repeatedly relied on federal disaster relief money, it is time fishermen and fisheries managers to alter their crisis response and take the necessary action that will address the problem at the source rather than ameliorate the economic side-effects.
People across the Northeast are rightly asking what is wrong with the management of New England’s fishing, and what needs to change.The Pew Charitable Trusts aimed to answer those questions with thorough research on and analysis of actions by the New England Fishery Management Council. The result is an issue brief we have titled “Risky Decisions.”
In this week’s Fish Talk in the News, NMFS announced the closure of the George’s Bank Atlantic herring fishery; NEFMC invested $800,000 in collaborative research projects; a UMass Dartmouth professor received $205,000 for bycatch-reducing technology development; NEFSC began a new campaign to protect North Atlantic Right Whales; NEFMC is seeking SSC nominees; local organizations disapprove of the new Gloucester Harbor Plan; Maine lobster supply returns to average levels; Maine lobster processors receive government loan; a Globe article describes the effects of climate change on Maine lobster; the Gulf of Maine Lobster Fishery enters the next phase of MSC certification; scallop landings are declining; Oceana pushes for reform of gillnet use; an opinion piece on menhaden; GAO finds geographic disparity in stock assessments; Lee Crocket of Pew Charitable Trusts promotes ecosystem-based fisheries management; and NFSC publishes a report on electronic monitoring in fisheries data collection.
On May 29, the House Natural Resources Committee met to refine legislation reauthorizing and amending the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the primary law that governs fishing in U.S. ocean waters. This is vital work: Our oceans are one of our nation’s most valuable natural resources. And congressional leaders should capitalize on this opportunity by adding stronger protections for essential habitat that fish populations need to spawn and grow in a healthy marine ecosystem.
The U.S. has the gold standard for fishery protection, thanks to the law that governs it—the Magnuson-Stevens Act of 1976 (MSA). Since 2000, the law has helped rebuild 34 fish species and strengthened coastal economies around the country. But we have 40 other stocks that need serious help. So how can we restore our fisheries? Save the Sound held a forum to find out.
This week the New England Fishery Management Council holds the first meeting of a committee aiming to revive efforts on Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management, or EBFM. This is great news, but also greatly overdue.
According to some estimates, as much as 40 percent of fish caught around the globe is discarded at sea, dead or dying. We can’t afford to continue this wasteful practice. Stopping the unnecessary squandering of nontarget fish in many U.S. fisheries and reducing the needless incidental killing of untold seabirds, whales, and other marine life by indiscriminate fishing gear is central to a new, national approach to ecosystem-based fisheries management.
Species such as herring, menhaden, and sardines—commonly known as forage fish—make up the menu for much of the wildlife in our ocean. These schooling fish eat tiny plants and animals near the ocean’s surface. In turn, they are eaten by a host of other animals—including larger fish, seabirds, and whales—making them a vital part of the marine food web.
In this week’s Fish Talk in the News, a slew of legal decisions on groundfish regulations; new research suggests more than 20% of seafood imported into the US is caught illegally; the Senate ratifies treaties to cut down on pirate fishing; environmental groups sue to expand protected habitat for right whales; ecosystem-based management could help respond to climate change; GMRI and the Bigelow Lab compete for funding for real-time monitoring; scallop fisheries in Maine and Nantucket Bay have a strong year; recovering alewife populations may mean a new fishery, too; Maine’s elver season begins with new regulations; an effort to clean up ghost gear is successful.
We can and must do better. It’s time that decision-makers and federal fisheries managers pursue broader policy solutions that will not only help restore individual species but also promote healthy and robust marine ecosystems—an approach known within scientific circles as ecosystem-based fisheries management.