2014 in Review - Small-boat Policy Successes
The Alliance has worked to achieve success for the policy issues small-boat fishermen care about.
At the November meeting of the New England Fishery Management Council, the Alliance’s scallop fishermen secured a resounding victory in their ongoing efforts to protect their small-boat way of life.
Within the New England scallop fishery, there are two fleets: the small boats and the big boats. Small boats depend on a stable, reliable source of scallops close to home. Meanwhile, the large boats fish rotationally, moving to wherever scallop stocks are healthiest and fishing those stocks to depletion before letting those stocks recover by moving on to another fishing area. When the healthy scallop stocks are close to shore, as they were this year, large boats come in and fish those stocks down. This makes it hard for our small-boat fishermen to continue to fish close to the Cape and, in some cases, forces them to move their fishing down to New Jersey, where scallops are more abundant. Our scallop fleet recognized this conflict can only be resolved by collaborating around the common goal of a sustainable fishery.
Our scallopers worked tirelessly to get the Council to support their efforts, reaching out to individual Council members and collecting over 100 supporting signatures from other fishermen and fishing-dependent businesses. As a result of this hard work, Council members voted unanimously to hold a workshop between small-scale scallop fishermen across New England and their large-scale counterparts to help both groups work together to ensure the survival of small-boat scallopers. This is an important first step in what is sure to be a long journey to securing a sustainable future for our small-boat scallop fleet. But with the determination of our fishermen backed by the oversight of the Council, make no mistake, we will secure it.
We made considerable forward progress on our Atlantic herring campaign this year. Sea herring are forage fish that are important food for other fish, sea birds and marine mammals, particularly in New England waters. Healthy herring stocks are critical to improve groundfish, such as cod, bluefin tuna and striped bass populations, all of which are important fisheries for Cape Cod.
The New England Fishery Management Council took a giant step forward in terms of implementing ecosystem-based fisheries management strategies by committing to developing and implementing a harvest strategy for Atlantic herring in 2015. This new strategy offers a chance for our slowly recovering groundfish populations to benefit from healthy, abundant forage fish stocks. With this success, we are one step closer to creating a healthier, more prosperous ocean ecosystem.