To the editor:
If we truly care about our oceans and our fisheries, then "who" fishes matters!
The New England Fisheries Management Council has made clear that fleet reduction is a priority in order to reduce total catch. However, a council vision for who stays and who goes is absent.
We learned from the experience of U.S. farm policy that consolidation without a vision resulted in large-scale factory farming corporations driving out family farmers and degrading the land based environment, biodiversity, and security of the food system in this country.
As it did this, it also destroyed the fabric and vitality of farming communities in the heartland.
Consolidation without a vision is a mistake we cannot afford to repeat.
The New England community has a vision for "who" should fish. Over a two-year visioning process, a diverse group of commercial and recreational fishermen from all geographical areas, boat sizes, and gear types came together with scientists, fisheries advocates, community members and shore-side businesses to create a long-term vision for the fleet.
One piece of the vision that calls for a diverse fleet states:
"A geographically distributed commercial and recreational fleet that includes all gear types and boat sizes ... the community strongly dislikes the possibility of a fleet that is consolidated either by ownership or geography, and participants in this project advocate many jobs and coastal community welfare over economic efficiency."
Tell the New England Fisheries Management Council it is time to adopt a Vision so that we don't repeat the same mistakes that have destroyed so many communities and ecosystems.