Time to rethink fishery management?

TO THE POINT: Point Judith fishing boat Karen Elizabeth steams out of Galilee on its way to the squid fishing grounds. / PBN PHOTO/JOHN P. LEE
TO THE POINT: Point Judith fishing boat Karen Elizabeth steams out of Galilee on its way to the squid fishing grounds. / PBN PHOTO/JOHN P. LEE
Fishery management traditionally has focused on fishing pressure, the removal of animals from a population with nets, lines and traps, as the only statistic worth using in the regulatory equation. The rationale is simple, at least in theory: If the landings in a fishery drop, it’s assumed that the population has declined. Everything else that…

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  1. John –

    Great job. I have been writing about the shortcomings of our fishing-centric attempts to manage our fisheries for most of two decades. The New England groundfish debacle is only the most obvious example of how ultimately futile this can be, and how much human misery it has caused and is continuing to cause in fishing communities on all of our coasts.

    Keep up the good work. It’s tremendously refreshing to read an article that wasn’t written directly from a press release paid for by one of a handful of mega-foudations that has no regard for fishermen or fishing communities.

  2. This piece brings up a great point about rethinking fishery management. Methods like ecosystem-based fishery management, where multiple ecosystem measurements are taken into account, need to be used to address the needs of fish and fishermen alike. What happens in our rivers has a huge effect on our oceans, and vice versa.

  3. Great article. Taking new perspectives on fishery management is important, as long as we keep in mind the importance of maintaining habitat protection. This can really help provide resilience for marine species against climate change effects on ecosystems in RI. This effort, combined with minimizing bycatch of nontarget fish (as well as birds and mammals, of course) can help ecosystem plans take an appropriately broad view.

  4. This article does a good job of putting in context the larger changes happening in fisheries in RI and greater New England. What needs to follow is smarter management policies that maintain habitat protection. Some plans, like the currently proposed Omnibus Habitat Amendment, don’t do enough, and in fact will significantly reduce protection of habitat in New England’s ocean waters. We need to protect areas known to shelter spawning aggregations of fish, and to protect young fish and forage species.

    This is a solvable problem, but we have to work together. We don’t want to fall back into the well just as we’re beginning to climb out!