Quota Reductions for Atlantic Herring, Bluefin Tuna

The New England Fishery Management Council recently made three important decisions at its meeting in Newport, Rhode Island regarding the management of the region’s herring fishery.

First, the council decided to generate a broad catch and bycatch monitoring program in 2010 that will provide data for determining the health of herring. To date, inadequate catch monitoring of the fleet has made it difficult to accurately predict population sizes and the rates at which herring are being fished.

Second, the council committed to protect spawning herring on Nantucket
Shoals by adding this item into its upcoming work on the herring
fishery management plan. 

Finally, perhaps the most important decision the council made was to
recommend that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) follow the
advice of the council’s Science and Statistical Committee in reducing
allowable catch levels for the years 2010 through 2012. The final
decision on 2010-12 catch levels will be made by NMFS, using the best
available science, over the next few months.

The Pew Environment Group praised the Council for playing it safe with the future of Atlantic herring.

"The herring industry lawyers and lobbyists pushed the council to
ignore the scientific recommendations, but the council stood strong,"
said Peter Baker, Atlantic Herring campaign manager for the Pew Environment Group, and director of the Herring Alliance. . "Using science-based management is the correct course of
action. While these cuts will provide a short-term economic challenge,
they will allow the best chance of maintaining healthy herring
populations for the short-, medium- and long-term. The council and
fisheries service must not take risks when the health of herring stocks
is at stake."
Herring are a vital part of the ocean’s food web, providing forage for
many commercially and recreationally important fish species such as
cod, striped bass, haddock and bluefin tuna, as well as for sea birds
and marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and seals.

In Related News…

Fishing nations agreed on Sunday to cut by about a third the quota for Atlantic bluefin tuna, a giant fish prized by sushi lovers, numbers of which have been decimated by commercial catches.

The move was denounced as inadequate by environmental groups who had called on the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to agree to a zero quota and list the fish as an endangered species.

Read the Reuters report at the link below.

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