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May 9, 2013

Letter: Don't lose sight of fishery's big picture

To the editor:

There is no denying that the fishing industry is in serious trouble.

We have been hearing almost constantly about bitter complaints aimed at NOAA, catch shares, “pseudoscience,” overzealous enforcement of the Coast Guard, job-killing regulations and disastrous cuts in quotas. Then there are severe criticisms of NOAA officials, such as John Bullard and Jane Lubchenco.

However, it seems we never hear about the danger of losing the resource for an extended period if not forever. This is the big picture we have lost sight of. We have only to look at the collapse of the Newfoundland cod industry followed by a total fishing ban and the extinction of the California Sardine fishery, along with many other examples worldwide.

The science tells us that “overfishing and relentless seafloor habitat destruction caused by widespread use of bottom trawling and dredging have sharply depleted New England’s iconic cod populations – which are now at record low levels – and depleted our groundfish species, including haddock and yellowtail flounder,” (Conservation Law Foundation).

The science may change somewhat over time, but it is still the best information we have. We have a long history of the regulated fighting the regulations and the (regulators often trying to discredit the science in the process.) Look at the financial, pharmaceutical, auto and coal industries. The facts about global warming are becoming more plentiful every day and still the data and science are attacked.

It is painful to see the decline of an industry so important to Gloucester and to the fishing families with mortgages and loans to pay off and mouths to feed.

Let us hope and pray that families can survive this rough period, perhaps with federal help, to allow fish stocks to recover and for Gloucester to resume sustainable fishing consistent with its glorious past.

GEORGE SMITH

Masconomo Street, Manchester

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