GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Letters/My View

October 15, 2012

Letter: Trip limits would make fisheries worse

To the editor:

Wasn’t one of the big selling points for catch shares — or as I call it, catch scams — the elimination of trip limits and their inherent discards?

So now NOAA and the enviros are talking about re-instating “inshore” trip limits to solve a problem of their own making, when they can’t even differentiate between George’s Bank cod and Gulf of Maine cod when it comes down to where they were landed or caught.

This represents a giant step backwards.

It is the worst of both worlds. and once again the smaller day boats will pay the bill.

This whole khackamaime catch share concept needs to be scuttled. Perhaps The Western Gulf of Maine mobile gear restricted area should be changed to chain nets only with a limit on sweep. That would provide critical habitat protection, reduce pulse fishing, and virtually eliminate gear conflicts.

Having firmly established an anything goes commodities racket, trying to control it would be like herding cats. Boils down to the simple fact that the whole catch shares concept, which was not hashed out before it’s premature mandatory implementation, is proving to be a disaster from all perspectives.

Effort displacement is at an all-time high, stocks appear to be heading for an all-time low, pulse fishing is rampant, and what little unity among fishermen we had —painstakingly achieved over years of compromise — is eroding like a sand castle on the incoming tide.

What do you do when you can’t go back, can’t stay where you are, and you don’t have any idea of what may lay ahead? Drop back and punt?

It seems like that’s what’s being suggested by reverting to trip limits. Under trip limits, bycatch of “choke species” would most likely force most boats to tie up before they landed their quotas — that is, of course, if unintended overages, deducted from your measly allocations, didn’t sideline you way before that.

The only thing worse than a bad idea is following it up with one that’s even lousier. And that, sadly, is an accurate definition of our current fisheries management system.

PAUL COHAN

Gloucester

Captain, F.V. Sasquatch

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