SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

October 16, 2013

Our view: Time to tap the brakes on ‘ocean zoning’

The federal Habitat Omnibus Amendment, already a confounding six years in the works, has a nice ring to it.

After all, who wouldn’t welcome new protections for our ocean habitat? Perhaps even fishermen, who’ve been at odds over various ocean preservation issues in the past, might support a package like this, given that it’s aimed — at least in theory — at the long-term, sustainable harvesting of seafood, right?

Wrong.

The truth is, this amendment, as it now stands, is so flawed it’s not worth the considerable paper on which it’s written. And the locally based Northeast Seafood Coalition, the leading voice and organizational group for the commercial fishing industry in the Northeast, is right to jump in and raise what should be very basic questions to those pushing this painfully misguided attempt at “ocean zoning,” whether federal officials and the nonprofit giants like that term or not.

In a nutshell, the proposed habitat amendment will narrow down and designate specific areas of the ocean that will be open to commercial fishermen in the Northeast fishery, perhaps as early as the winter of 2015. And it is once again a measure that would inevitably shut far too many doors on a core American industry that is already in the grips of a recognized “economic disaster” — and one created with the help of our own federal government at that.

For one thing, the coalition and other fishing groups are again raising dire questions about the credibility of the science used by what’s being called the Closed Area Technical Team. And beyond the basic science questions, coalition executive director Jackie Odell raises another significant concern: Some of the technical team’s recommendations for supposedly easing the clamps on seafood harvesting just don’t make any sense.

One of the measures, for example, would ban commercial fishing for the purpose of protecting groundfish, supposedly to promote spawning and rebuilding of stocks. Yet, the bill would simultaneously allow open access to the very same areas by recreational charter fishermen, who have been allocated 34 percent and 38 percent of Gulf of Maine haddock and cod stocks respectively.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion

AP Video
Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground
Comments Tracker
Roll Call
Helium debate
Helium