New England Fisheries Management quota cut doesn't go far enough

Cod fishery should be shut down to allow stocks to rebuild
Peter Shelley, Senior Counsel writes about the NE Fisheries Management's failure to act appropriately. Photo courtesy of Brian Skerry.

Editor's Note: Conservation Law Foundation’s Peter Shelley made an impassioned plea to the NE Fisheries Management Council yesterday to be courageous in its management of the cod fishery to avert a commercial collapse that could threaten an entire generation of New England groundfishermen. In a statement below, CLF says the Council’s recommended cuts don’t go far enough and that the cod fishery should be shut down to allow stocks to rebuild.

Cod fishery should be shut down to allow stocks to rebuild

In response to yesterday’s vote at the New England Fisheries Management Council meeting to approve a 77 percent cut in the amount of cod New England fisherman can catch in the fishing year beginning May 1, 2013, Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) said the cuts don’t go far enough and called for the closure of the cod fishery to avoid a commercial collapse that could take decades to reverse. CLF issued the following statement from Peter Shelley, Senior Counsel:

“In recommending the least aggressive cut to cod quota allowable under the law, the New England Fisheries Management Council continued a long and irresponsible track record of putting short-term economic interests over the long-term health of New England’s cod fishery,” said Peter Shelley, senior counsel, Conservation Law Foundation. “The science is clear. The models are showing cod stocks at the lowest levels in history and declining. And if anyone doubts the science, they only need to look at how much cod is being caught this year. The fish just aren’t there.”

Shelley continued, “It’s exactly these kinds of short-sighted decisions that have allowed cod to be overfished for decades and contributed to this biological disaster. It is unconscionable that we should continue to take such risks in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence and the stark example of our neighbors to the North. Rather than arguing over the scraps left after decades of mismanagement, we should be shutting the cod fishery down and protecting whatever cod are left. The Council needs to have the courage to take the necessary, if painful, steps to rebuild this iconic fishery for the future. An entire generation of groundfishermen is at risk because of the Council’s limited response.”

Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. Using the law, science and the market, CLF creates solutions that preserve natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy region-wide. Founded in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization with offices in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.


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