At the intersection of marine conservation and social, economic, environmental and food justice

Thursday, February 23, 2012

By Marine Biologist Bob Steneck, guest blogger
University of Maine
School of Marine Sciences

Note: This letter was addressed to New England fisheries 
decision-makers regarding Amendment 18 to the groundfish plan. 
We encourage everyone to join Bob by submitting your own 
comments in support of fleet diversity. Click here to learn how.

Dear New England Fisheries Management Council,

I am a professor in the University of Maine's School of Marine Sciences who has worked with numerous fisheries for nearly 30 years. I am very concerned about Amendment 18 because the no-action alternative will contribute to the loss of fleet diversity which is, in my opinion, one of the gravest problems facing the New England fleet and its fisheries.

When I served on the Fisheries Task Force that recommended Catch Shares, my primary concern was that it could result in consolidation (see more on consolidation). With consolidation, smaller owner operators are squeezed out. This segment of the fleet is most attuned to changes in fish stocks and has the capacity to fish most adaptively and sustainably.

Please do what you can to preserve fleet diversity. I think as part of that there should be quota accumulation limits. I think for the health of the fishing community and the community of fishes, you should work to prevent a heavy concentration of fishing effort around inshore areas. Where possible foster owner-operators and independently
owned business. It will also give new entrants into the fishery a chance of surviving.

Along with keeping the offshore boats offshore, it is a good idea to establish quota set-aside programs to reward sectors that meet specific benchmarks that promote fleet diversity. Fishermen should not be allowed to lease 100% of their quota. Leasing and permit trading should be constrained so the smaller fishing operators are not forced out. These actions are necessary because, in my opinion, the small boat subset of fisheries stakeholders is our best chance for improving and sustaining our inshore groundfish stocks.

Bob Steneck

Thank you Bob for sharing your comments. We encourage everyone who, like Bob, supports fleet diversity to submit your own comments as part of a public comment period that ends March 1. Click HERE for help on e-mailing comments. Every comment counts!

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