NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

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January 1, 2013

NOAA report spotlights 'underfishing'

(Continued)

The dramatic extent of the underfishing was the predicted outcome of many figures associated with the groundfishing industry, including Congressman Barney Frank, who did not run for re-election in 2012, Brian Rothschild, a founder of the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth’s School of Marine Science and Technology, Vito Giacalone, policy director of the Northeast Seafood Coalition and President of the Gloucester Fishing Community Preservation Fund or permit bank, and Gloucester fisheries attorney Stephen Ouellette.

“There is a failure to take into account the mixed-species nature of the fishery in current management regulations,” Rothschild testified the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife on April 22, 2010. “Unless this is changed, catch-share management will only propagate ongoing underfishing and by-catch waste.

According to the Science Center report, only 11 to 12 percent of Georges Bank haddock was landed in 2011, 34 percent of redfish, and 50 percent of haddock.

Even cod, the stock whose downward turn in the arc of its restoration has brought the industry toward a potentially catestrophic fishing year in 2013, was under-harveseted in 2011.

Fishermen landed only 83 percent of the George’s Bank cod east, along the “transboundery” line with Canada, and 70 percent of the allocation for the western section of George’s. In the Gulf of Maine, only 85 percent of the allocation was landed — and NOAA reduced the allocation by 22 percent in 2012, the fishing year that runs through Apri 30, 2013. The 22 percent reduction was an interim emergency measure aimed at giving the industry one more year of viability while rewriting the recovery plan that would eliminate overfishing immediately.

The groundfishery was declared a disaster in September by acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank, and based on the finding, the congressional delegations for the five coastal New England states and New York were attempting to push a $100 million relief appropriation for the groundfishery through Congress before the session ends at midnight tonight.

Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3464, or at rgaines@gloucestertimes.com.

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