The full testimony of David Goethel, a fisherman and member of the New England Fishery Management Council, Tuesday before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife, holding oversight hearings into the implementation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act in Washington, D.C.
"My name is David Goethel and I have been the captain of various fishing vessels sailing from Hampton Harbor, New Hampshire continuously since 1973. In addition I have a degree in biology from Boston University and I am a member of the New England Fisheries Management Council. I am here today to testify on the 2006 amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act and their effects on the small boat fishermen of New Hampshire.
"I can report today that the NEFMC will achieve the Congressional mandate to implement Annual Catch Limits (ACL) and Accountability Measures (AM) in all managed fisheries within its jurisdiction except the small mesh multispecies fishery (silver hake and red hake). The ACL setting information for this fishery will not be available until after a data poor workshop to be held by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Dec. 2010.
"This is the good news; the bad news is that the ACL and AM setting process has uncovered many problems which may lead to the complete elimination of commercial fishermen from many of the New England fishing communities, especially those of New Hampshire. The largest single systemic problem encountered has been the inability to provide fishermen or the council with analyses of the economic and social costs and benefits of various management options that are adequate to support meaningful public comment and debate. For example, in groundfish, we voted an allocation scheme and management regimes in June and the ACL's in September; and yet no fisherman has any idea what these mean in terms of their catch and business viability in 2010. This rapid decision-making process has been necessary to meet the arbitrary timelines for Magnuson-Stevens Act implementation, but has been described by one observer of the process as, 'Fire, Ready, Aim!' When the individual allocations are finally announced, the outcry and anger will be loud and long.