New England Council Votes in Favor of Scallop Fishery in Battle of Politics over Science
Oceana Appalled by Decision to Protect Short-term Profits over Long-term Sustainability
Press Release Date: January 27, 2010
Location: Portsmouth, N.H.
The New England Fishery Management Council voted today to put short-term profits ahead of the long-term health of the scallop fishery. Specifically, the Council reversed a decision from last fall that was intended to prevent overfishing of scallops off the Atlantic coast and to allow for a scientific balance between the ocean ecosystem and the coastal economy.
“Politics clearly triumphed over sound science today,” said Dave Allison, senior campaign director at Oceana. “This is a perfect example of how politics can interfere with the Council’s responsibility and authority as an ‘advisor to NOAA’ to manage fishery resources.”
Overturning these recommendations, as requested by the $360 million–a-year scallop industry, could risk harm to scallop stocks, overfished yellowtail flounder, threatened and endangered sea turtle populations and even the industry’s long-term livelihood.
“Increased scallop catch will likely take this fishing fleet into juvenile scallop beds in New England and the Mid-Atlantic,” said Allison. “This could lead to increased catch of scallops before they reach marketable size as well as the capture of non-targeted species, including sea turtles, yellowtail flounder and other groundfish.”