Oceana Urges New England Fisheries Council to Do the Right Thing - Oceana USA
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2007-06-13 00:00:00

Oceana Urges New England Fisheries Council to Do the Right Thing

Oceana is urging the New England Fisheries Management Council to act now to protect the marine environment.  Cod – the fish that made New England synonymous with fishing – have been dwindling in northeast waters for over twenty years because commercial fishing caught too many while at the same time destroying their habitat by plowing over the living corals, sponges, and other structure that they use for shelter.  During the past two decades, the federal government has spent close to $100 million on disaster relief and another $25 million is in the works.  
Science and common sense both tell us that wildlife can’t live if it doesn’t have a place to live in.  So Oceana is pleading with the Council to take responsibility for fixing this problem by protecting the cod’s habitat before the cod fishery collapses completely, devastating the environment and fishing communities alike, as in nearby Newfoundland. But protecting cod habitat means setting aside small areas for protection from fishing – and it is not clear that the fishing industry has the vision needed to invest in its future.  Last week, possibly because of behind the scenes industry pressure, a Council subcommittee met in secret and tried to block consideration of any proposal to designate habitat for protection in areas currently fished.

Calling secret meetings to unfairly influence decisions and ignoring science when it is convenient is wrong. Oceana is urging the Council to overrule its secret subcommittee and do the right thing, even if that means it’s to ignore the pressure it is feeling from the fishing industry. The Council must recognize the detrimental effects that failure is likely to have on not only the cod populations but also deliberations for multi-million dollar fishery emergency funding for groundfish.