Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) strongly denounced Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s announcement today that the State intends to sue the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), arguing that catch limits the federal government has set for commercial fishing on cod and flounder will hurt the fishing industry. CLF issued the following statement from Peter Shelley, senior counsel:
“The Attorney General is wrong on the law and she is wrong on the facts,” said Peter Shelley, senior counsel with CLF, who has been actively engaged in fisheries management for more than 20 years. “Political interference like this action by Attorney General Coakley has been a leading cause of the destruction of these fisheries over the past twenty years, harassing fishery managers to ignore the best science available.”
The real facts in New England’s coastal waters are grim. Scientists are in agreement that there are no positive signs indicating recovery of the codfish that have been depleted from overfishing by the New England fleet. Even the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries scientific fish survey of its coastal waters last fall produced the lowest number of cod that has ever been recorded in the history of the state survey.
“The fishing industry didn’t catch the fish they were allocated last year because the fish are not there,” continued Shelley. We need responsible management which includes habitat protection and a suspension of directed commercial and recreational fishing for cod. We also need some serious leadership from our elected officials. Going to court or getting up on a political soapbox will not magically create more fish. With this precipitous and ill-informed action today, Attorney General Coakley is certainly not acting on behalf of the majority of Massachusetts residents who want a healthy ocean and abundant fish populations for their grandchildren to catch in the decades to come.”
CLF has been working since 1990 to stop overfishing and ocean habitat destruction in New England waters. Actions like Attorney General Coakley’s announcement today will only continue the depletion of our public resources and degrade important ocean habitat refuges off our coasts.
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.