This week senators from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island sent a letter to Eric Schwaab, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, proposing several refinements to enhance the New England groundfish sector management program. EDF agrees that we need to be adaptive and sectors – as with all fisheries management tools — need to be refined as experience is gathered and evaluated. With more than a year of operation under sectors now complete, results of the program’s performance show signs of progress that the fishery has started to turn the corner to a more ecologically and economically stable fishery.
EDF agrees with the senators and is very focused on improving the at-sea monitoring program so that is more reliable, comprehensive, and cost effective. At-sea monitoring costs need to be reduced and the use and electronic monitoring systems need to be approved. EDF commissioned Northern Economics Inc to conduct an independent 3rd party review of the current sector monitoring program to compare the program with similar programs on the Pacific Coast and in Alaska to make recommendations for improving the design and reducing the costs of the program.
EDF looks forward to working with the fishing industry, New England Fishery Management Council, NOAA and other organizations to continue to implement sound management policies that will enhance the sector management program to achieve greater conservation outcomes and greater predictability and profitability for its fishermen and fishing communities.