To the editor:
To NOAA Regional Administrator John Bullard: As a fellow MIT alumnus, I am baffled at your stubborn adherence to a fish monitoring plan that the most cursory analysis shows is not only unsustainable, but will simply not provide the data you say you need to understand New England fish populations.
Unfortunately, you have painted yourself into a corner by making enemies of the most valuable source of information on New England fish -- the fishermen themselves:
--You have branded them as biased liars whose reports cannot be trusted -- hence the need for “monitors.”
-- You have established draconian quotas that force fishermen to avoid certain species, then use the low quantities seen of these fish to prove there aren’t any.
-- You have attempted to find fish with your own boats and use your lack of success as proof that the fish have not recovered.
-- You have issued, modified, canceled and re-established rules with a frequency that leaves fishermen with no long-term hope. “Day boat” has come to describe how long a fishing business can survive.
-- You now say fishermen should pay inexperienced monitors more than they can pay their own crew.
You have said “regulatory requirements and statistical standards” have forced you to take this dysfunctional approach -- but who is responsible for its impact on the fishermen? You have said that your job is to “protect the cod.” Then, whose job is it to protect the fishermen?
The really sad thing about this situation is that an intelligent, cooperative approach to sustained fishing and species recovery has always been possible:
-- Restrict fishing techniques and open areas to allow a limited number of boats to actually earn a living;
-- Make fishing threatened species less efficient -- driving up prices through smaller supply;
-- Incentivize fishermen to accurately report fish observations by not restricting their fishing areas or quotas based on these reports;
-- Make preservation of sustainable fishing an equal priority with cod/
So, my final question: when there are no more fishermen on the North Shore, who will pay for your monitors and who will take them out to sea?