GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

November 14, 2012

Letter: Catch shares are not behind fishery 'disaster'

To the editor:

The Gloucester Daily Times is right when it says federal officials need to move forward with disaster relief for the New England fishery (Editorial, “Lack of fishing ‘disaster’ aid paints telling picture,” Wednesday, Nov. 14).

But your editorial could not be more wrong about the causes and the cures of the plummeting fish stocks that are harming fishing families.

First: It is time to take our heads out of the sand when it comes to climate change and the effect it is having on fish.

It is irresponsible to pretend that federal regulations – not warming waters, not decreasing salinity, not dramatic changes in the predator/prey balance of our seas – are to blame for what is happening to stocks of groundfish.

Responsible scientists and many fishermen agree: We are seeing dramatic, unprecedented changes in our oceans. The fact is that without the sector program, without catch shares, and if the fishery still operated under the old “days at sea” approach, the fishing industry would be in far worse shape.

Our organization has pushed hard for policies to help struggling fishermen. We support reconsidering closed areas, putting in place limits on control of quota, and providing disaster aid targeted to research and monitoring that will help to save the industry for generations to come for boats of all sizes.

Disaster aid is needed now. So is better monitoring, and investing in better science.

What we don’t need are outdated political feuds that contribute nothing positive to this very difficult situation.

MATT MULLIN

Deputy regional director, N.E. Oceans program

Environmental Defense Fund

Boston

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