, Newburyport, MA

May 24, 2013

Quotas needed to save our fishing stock

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

While losing one’s livelihood is devastating to individuals and families, something that many in this economy can identify with, at some point our fishery here in New England will reach a point of no return with the same economic end result. Scientific evidence suggests that our fishery is already there, or beyond that point of maintaining a sustainable breeding population among numerous species.

I’m now in my 50s and I can attest to the fact that fishing today is nothing what it was like when I commercially fished as a teenager in the ’70s. And what it was like in the ’70s, wasn’t even close to what it was in the early 1900s when my grandfather fished out of Gloucester.

Unlike the sustainable fishery we have in Alaska, our fishery here was never managed from the start and truly is a mere shadow of what it once was. In the past, emotional public testimony by fishermen and the promise of creating or maintaining jobs has always trumped scientific evidence, leading to ineffective policy regarding catch limits and fishing in breeding grounds, which is why we’re having this discussion in the first place.

Make no mistake: Commercial fishing is essential to our economy. Managing it as they do in Alaska with strict quotas, time limits and limited licenses will make it sustainable, thriving and quite profitable. I have relatives who fish there. They would have it no other way.

When there are no more fish to catch here in New England, who will the fishermen then blame for their empty nets, idle boats and the bills they can’t pay? It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it is what it is. Overfishing and profit by our ancestors has brought us to where we are today. It’s certainly not the result of government regulation of what has been a free for all fishery.

Michael Morris,

West Newbury