New England Fisheries

Visualizing Fisheries Management with the Northeast Ocean Data Portal

Alternative 4 proposes a combination of year-round and seasonal exemptions. Image via Northeast Ocean Data Portal.

With Thanksgiving upon us, here at Talking Fish, we were thinking about what we are thankful for when it comes to fisheries management in New England. This year, one thing we’re thankful for are the continued efforts to make fisheries management decisions more accessible to stakeholders through the use of the Northeast Ocean Data Portal.

Oftentimes fisheries management can seem anything but the open and transparent process that it is intended to be. The Northeast Ocean Data Portal, however, can help change that.

You may remember when the New England Fishery Management Council utilized the Data Portal during development of the Deep-Sea Coral Amendment. Similarly, the Council is now using the Data Portal for its Clam Dredge Framework, which explores the possibility of extending a worrisome exemption for clam dredge gear in the newly designated Great South Channel Habitat Management Area. Without Council action, the exemption will expire on April 9, 2019.

While there are many concerns associated with the Clam Dredge Framework itself – e.g. fishery managers shouldn’t allow destructive bottom-tending fishing gear into habitat management areas, especially after the region just spent over a decade deciding to protect these areas for their value as essential fish habitat – making the alternatives under consideration available as interactive maps allows stakeholders to better visualize the possible impacts of the Framework and come to the table better informed.

So, if you have any free time in between Thanksgiving dinner and dessert, or maybe in between football games, we encourage you to go onto the Data Portal and explore the new maps. The Council is expected to take final action on the Clam Dredge Framework on December 4th.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!


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