To the editor:
I’m writing in response to the Gloucester Daily Times’ Oct. 15 editorial “Time to put brakes on bogus ocean ‘habitat’ measure.”
For over the past five years, the Northeast Seafood Coalition has actively participated in the New England Fishery Management Council process surrounding the Omnibus Essential Fish Habitat Amendment 2 (commonly referred to as the Habitat Omnibus Amendment) to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan.
On behalf of our fishing members, we have and continue to engage in every step of this process to help ensure this management action is successful in achieving its intended purpose while not creating adverse and largely unnecessary impacts on an already fragile groundfish fleet.
The initial direction of the Habitat Amendment was to develop focused habitat areas and protect habitat on a finer scale than the broad closures commercial groundfish fishermen face today.
The closures currently in place are the result of a 15-year-old management approach, which essentially closed fishing grounds where the most fish were caught in order to achieve the necessary reductions in what is referred to as fishing mortality.
In 2010, however, the fishery transitioned to hard total allowable catch management structure; as a result, closures serving the old management style are largely unnecessary from a fishing mortality standpoint.
Today, many of the options in the draft Habitat Amendment are based upon extensive discussions and considerable time invested by a diverse group of stakeholders, including the Northeast Seafood Coalition, who have a keen interest in making this fishery management action successful.
There is the potential for groundfish fishermen to gain access to areas that have been closed to fishing for decades, while more discreet and concentrated closures could take their place.
The Northeast Seafood Coalition will continue to remain heavily involved in the Habitat Amendment as it moves forward—and continue to be a voice for the commercial groundfish fleet in the Northeast.
We appreciate the Gloucester Daily Times’ coverage of this very important issue that will affect several key Northeast fisheries.
Northeast Seafood Coalition