11th Hour G’Fish Brawl
by Laurie Schreiber
PORTLAND – Advocates for the groundfish industry are scrambling to keep the remainder of the shrinking fleet going, in the face of drastic cuts to catch quotas for certain species, which became effective May 1.
On the one hand, there’s a movement to try to get cuts of up to 77 percent of “choke” stock quotas overturned in favor of an interim measure that would impose less onerous quota reductions.
On the other hand, fishery managers are looking at ways to protect the diversity of the remaining fleet and prevent consolidation of leased quota to a shrinking number of entities.
Rich Canastra, a groundfish advisor to the NEFMC, said the situation for the remaining fleet is becoming untenable. “When sectors came out, you needed three to four fishing licenses to fish one boat, the first year,” Canastra said. “The second year, it went up to six licenses. Today we’re at 12 licenses for one vessel to fish. So on one end, you’re cutting down ACLs [annual catch limits] because of the science, and on the other end, you’re cutting down the permits an individual can have. The bubble will burst.”
Northeast Coastal Communities Sector manager Aaron Dority said the NEFMC should also consider how to provide access to the fishery as stocks recover.