Friday, July 19, 2013

Rob Peter, Pay Paul, Take All the Fish

Take Action today to keep fishing out of a New Englad marine preserve.   It defeats the purpose!   Signing the petition takes about ten seconds.

See background details below from a post from February of this year. 

The New England Fisheries Management Council has agreed to open protected areas to fishing. 

It's a classic rob Peter to pay Paul scenario -- the landmark Georges Bank cod fishery is on the verge of collapse, so fishermen have set their sights on nearby areas that have been under protection for decades.

The Council put it in seemingly innocuous terms: "Other significant issues were approved that will affect the groundfish fishery that harvests cod, haddock, pollock and several types of flounders."

In addition to the groundfish, the decision also puts unique habitat squarely in the cross hairs as bottom trawling -- dragging huge nets and gear along the seafloor -- will be used.  Kelp forests flourish in one of the areas that would be raked with such nets.  In another, young flounder find refuge. 

The overall effect will be negative, according to the Pew Environment Group.  The areas' charismatic names like Cashes Ledge and Nantucket Light ship belie the potential impact.  "More than 5,000 sq. miles of seafloor are at risk of serious ecological setback. Decades of recovery could be rapidly erased," according to Pew.

Looking at the interactive map put together by Pew, some of the new trespasses are significant: 90% of one area and 60% of another will be opened in the proposal. 

The Council's idea sounds like a bad one for everyone including fishermen, especially as the science has shown that closed areas boost fish populations outside the protected zones and are often profitably fished by many fishermen.

Venerable marine conservation biologist Callum Roberts heartily agrees.  He calls the protected areas "the linchpin of fishery recovery" and urges fishermen to "resist the temptation to squander their resources in a splurge that would empty the sea and impoverish the industry once again."  

Near closure of the Georges Bank is a big hit for fishermen, but the rob Peter to pay Paul response to open up protected areas is just more of same mindless destruction.

Thankfully all is not lost.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has the final say; encourage them to say nay. 

Take Action
and contact NOAA offices, and reach out to regional administrator Guy Bullard.  Let them know you would like to keep the protected areas closed.  Also, NOAA is expected to announce a public comment period soon, which will be another opportunity to make your voice heard.  More to come on Eco Ocean.

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