, Gloucester, MA


September 10, 2013

Letter: Report shows flaws in NOAA, Pew stands

To the editor:

I have heard it so many times, that I call it the Pew Mantra.

What is the evidence that organization’s environmentalists offer to prove that family fishing vessels engage in overfishing? What are the “facts” on which they build their case? Well, this is what they tell us: At each passing, bottom trawlers scrape the floor of the ocean and, just like clear-cutting forests, make a desert out of it.

Sounds so convincing doesn’t it?

It sounds so convincing that it has been taken seriously in high and low places, in the national media and in the Halls of Congress, let alone in daily kibitzing. In fact, the Pew Mantra sounds so convincing that it has empowered the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to drastically curb the operations of family fishing vessels.

On the sheer force of the Pew Mantra, we are witnessing the destruction of the family fishing fleet! And now comes an authoritative study that stands the Pew Mantra on its head.

This study, by the National Research Council, says: “Bottom trawls are a globally used fishing gear that physically disturb the seabed and kill non-target organisms, including those that are food for the targeted fish species. There are indications that ensuing changes to the benthic invertebrate community may increase the availability of food and promote growth and even fisheries yield of target fish species.”

Could the study be any clearer? Even this council of our National Academies of Science has pronounced itself against the validity of another plank used by NOAA to clobber the fishermen.

As reported, this study “finds that current stock rebuilding plans, which are based on eliminating overfishing within a specified time period, are not flexible enough to account for uncertainties in scientific data and environmental factors that are outside the control of fishermen and fisheries managers. It concludes that basing rebuilding on a timeline diminishes consideration for the socioeconomic impacts of the rebuilding plans.”

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