Yet, as fisheries conservation advocate Charles Witek correctly points out in a recent blog, “What we really need is good baseline science to determine the number of fish that may safely be removed from healthy stocks [and] the measures that must be imposed to rebuild depleted stocks and revisit the allocations between the sectors to see whether they make sense in view of the legal mandate to manage fisheries for the greatest overall benefit to the nation.
“Using the money in that fashion would provide real long-term benefits, and ultimately the greatest hope for the fishing industry’s survival,” Witek notes. “On the other hand, handing out $100 million in pork in what amounts to a reward for depleting northeastern fish stocks will not change the long-term status quo, and it is that status quo which poses the greatest threat to the long-term survival not only of the fish stocks, but of the industry that cannot survive towing its nets through an empty ocean.”
Pointing the Finger
However ludicrous it may be, there are those ill-informed people who blame the situation on the current catch limits themselves, even though the current quotas cannot be met. In a statement, John Donnelly, a spokesman for Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, said the senator believes the solution is “to fix the root cause of the problem — firing Administrator [Jane] Lubchenco, improving the science and the data collected, and reforming the NOAA policies that created this crisis.”
While such statements appeal to fishermen, particularly those who got the short end of the stick during the sector allocation process, they of course have little basis in fact. The truth is that the current management system is solely responsible for whatever small increase there may be in the cod population. The statement is correct, however, in that better science could have prevented the initial overly optimistic stock assessment that got us here. Regardless, it doesn’t matter how a fishery is managed if there aren’t enough fish around.