No confidence in groundfish assessments

Jon Mitchell. ©City of New Bedford Jon Mitchell. ©City of New Bedford
Industry Database

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell has written to NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center Science and Research Director Bill Karp regarding anticipated cuts in 2013 Annual Catch Limits.

In his letter he highlights the need for accurate scientific data and says that fishermen are more likely to willingly accept quota cuts if they trust the science that the cuts are based on.

Mr Mitchell believes that the quota cuts forecasted for the 2013 fishing year would be devastating for New Bedford, the US’s highest grossing fishing port. Annual groundfish landings in New Bedford are worth $20 million and the scallop brings in $400 million in direct annual revenue - the two fisheries account for nearly $1.3 billion in annual economic activity in Greater New Bedford.

He says that the forecasted cuts are impossible for New Bedford fishermen to accept due to the growing concerns about the accuracy of the groundfish stock assessments. He is strongly urging Mr Karp to consider the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute (MFI)'s proposals to participate in an end-to-end stock assessment review and a cooperative yellowtail research survey.

Mr Mitchell writes, “I believe that an end-to-end review of the data collection, assessment and management process will promote a constructive dialogue between scientists, government, and industry on how best to improve fisheries science and management in New England.

“If fishermen believe that survey data reflect the actual abundance of the stock, then they will be more likely to accept the resulting stock assessments and management measures.”

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