Improvements in Science, Management Also Necessary to Help Fishing Community

WASHINGTON (August 3, 2012) – This morning, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) issued a statement calling for a Federal economic disaster declaration for the cod, haddock, flounder and other fish stocks that make up New England’s groundfish fishery. The request responds to assertions by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that complying with plans to rebuild key cod, haddock, and flounder fisheries could result in reductions in harvest of more than 70 percent next year.
“New England fishermen are being hit by a perfect storm of fewer fish, warmer waters, and competition from mislabled foreign seafood,” said Rep. Markey, the Dean of the Massachusetts delegation and the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over fishing issues. “We must help our fishermen by providing immediate disaster relief, better understanding the impacts of climate change on our oceans, and fighting fraud in the fish trade. It is clear that factors other than overfishing are in play, and we must take immediate action to provide relief to fishing communities and to improve fisheries science and management so that there will be fish to catch in the future.”
After decades of mismanagement, New England groundfish stocks had shown signs of recovery in recent years. However, recent stock assessments revealed a lower abundance of fish, even with the stricter conservation measures in place.  Preliminary studies indicate that species range shifts, disruption of spawning cycles, and changes in food webs related to warming waters associated with global climate change are playing a key role in altering New England’s ocean.
Rep. Markey introduced legislation last week to combat fish fraud and mislabeling.
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