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Habitat Protection Works for Now and for the Future

With the opportunity to extend and improve ocean habitat protections in the Omnibus Habitat Amendment (OHA), the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) should not bury its analysis in the practices and politics of the past, but look towards the very real needs of the present and future. But rather than moving deliberately to improve protection of Essential Fish Habitat and exercising precaution to protect large areas like other fishery management councils are doing, the NEFMC and even NMFS appear poised to promote a final Omnibus Habitat Amendment that will drastically reduce the extent of protected areas and allow trawling and other commercial fishing gear in areas that have served as refuge for innumerable species for nearly twenty years. … More Info »

Now Here’s an Idea We Can All Get Behind

For a law that determines so much of the health of the ocean and the ocean economy and serves as the de facto management framework for our nation’s ocean wildlife, the bill to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) received fairly brief treatment before being passed from the House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee in late May. However, during the markup of the bill there was a rare bright spot. Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA) offered an amendment that would require that every fishery management plan and every rebuilding plan for overfished stocks be required to have a probability of success that at least has a 75% chance of success. What’s not to like about that? … More Info »

Commonwealth Loses Lawsuit on Lower Catch Limits

With a court decision released on April 8 which denied the Commonwealth’s claims, Coakley’s lawsuit has run its predicted course. It’s time to recognize that we need real solutions such as stopping overfishing, protecting habitat, reducing bycatch and improving ocean management. … More Info »

Rep. Hastings’ Empty Oceans Act Is a Surefire Disaster for New England’s Ocean, Fisheries and Communities

Tomorrow morning in the Nation’s Capital the House Natural Resources Committee will convene to deliberate a “discussion draft” of a bill to revise the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA). After oversight hearings by both the House and the Senate last year, Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings has made the first legislative effort to put his Congressional pen to paper. Simply put, the Hastings draft ignores the state of New England’s fisheries and the need to move modern fishery management forward. … More Info »

Fisheries Disaster Money Shows, but Where Should it Flow?

Last week the most unproductive Congress in our Nation’s history managed to squeeze out an omnibus appropriations bill that includes $75 million dollars for fisheries disaster assistance. Disaster relief funding could still help a good number of people. A thoughtful and creative process for using this rare and scarce opportunity is warranted. … More Info »

Fisheries Recovery Requires Action

Balance is an important component of developing opinions, of course, but more so are those of substance, fact and context. That’s why we found the Boston Globe’s recent editorial regarding the proposed opening of protected areas on Georges Bank to be fairly lazy in its analysis of the dire state of New England’s fisheries. … More Info »

Fire, Ready, Aim: Attorney General Martha Coakley Launches Unguided Missile

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced yesterday at a press conference on the Boston Fish Pier that the Commonwealth intends to sue the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), arguing that legal catch limits the federal government has set for cod, flounder and other groundfish equates to a “death penalty” for the Massachusetts fishing industry. The Attorney General is once again wrong on the law and wrong on the facts. … More Info »

A Conspiracy Afloat?

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair. There appears to be a conspiracy in our midst. Or so, some would think. Saving Seafood, “a 501(c)(6) association organized as a non-profit corporation funded by the fishing industry,” appears to have become rather discomposed by uncovering the fact that some people in New England believe that the practice of ripping up the ocean floor with heavy bottom trawling fishing gear might have deleterious effects on ocean fish and wildlife and the habitat that these species depend upon. … More Info »

Destructive Trawling and the Myth of “Farming the Sea”

In the wake of significant but highly warranted cuts to catch limits for cod, the New England Fishery Management Council spent the last day of their most recent meeting in January discussing the development of a suite of habitat protection measures known as the Omnibus Habitat Amendment. Despite the obvious need for new habitat protections to help restore Atlantic cod populations, the Council had already taken action to potentially open over 5000 square miles of previously protected areas to destructive bottom trawling. By doing so, the Council has continued to demonstrate a lack of regard for the immeasurable documented benefits of habitat protection to the health and productivity of our fisheries. … More Info »

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays

After being declared a “fishery disaster,” changes in regulations to allow bottom trawling in Cashes Ledge, Jeffreys Ledge and the only protected portion of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary seems counterintuitive to ever devising a long-term strategy that could help restore groundfish populations in the Gulf of Maine. At a time of the lowest recorded groundfish populations in history, how does it make sense to increase bottom trawling in the best, remaining habitat areas? … More Info »