The New England Fishery Management Council voted today to improve how it manages the groundfish fishery, which includes a range of species from New Jersey to the Canadian border, including cod, haddock, flounder and pollock. Oceana says today’s decision has the potential to significantly improve at-sea monitoring for both targeted species and incidental catch, also known as bycatch. The changes include an increase in observer coverage of fishing trips from 40% to 100% through the expanded use of electronic monitoring technologies and human observers (monitoring increases are dependent on ongoing federal funding). If the management action, known as Amendment 23, is approved by NOAA Fisheries, it will provide additional accountability in the historic New England fishery that has a long history of overfishing of many iconic species, such as Atlantic cod.
Oceana, which has advocated for nearly 20 years to improve monitoring in this fishery, applauded the decision and released the following statement from senior campaign manager Gib Brogan:
“Oceana supports today’s action by the New England Fishery Management Council. Successfully rebuilding overfished stocks requires limits on what is caught and knowing when that limit is reached. Today’s decision, if supported by NOAA Fisheries and future congressional funding, will require monitoring to count and account for all fish that are caught and could finally bring accountability that this fishery has lacked for decades. With more monitoring at sea, fisheries managers will have a more accurate view of what is happening on the water. Without these changes, the fishery would continue under a system vulnerable to manipulation and misreporting, which undermines the council’s ability to properly manage it. The council and its technical experts should be applauded for pushing forward with scientific information that guides these long overdue changes to the way the government monitors catch in this fishery. When Amendment 23 takes effect, it will improve the assessment and management of this historic fishery, and the outcomes will benefit New England’s fisheries and coastal communities for years to come.”