NOAA Fisheries Regional Administrator Says No Silver Bullet for Goundfish Fishery

COURTESY OF NOAA FISHERIES: John Bullard, the regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region.

HYANNIS – The Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region John Bullard says the status quo management of the groundfish fishery is not sustainable.

In a public letter, Bullard says current management has resulted in record low abundance in some fish stocks and that there is no silver bullet to solve fishery issues.

He says a network of responses is a likely solution with elements that include a renewed management focus, revamped law enforcement, improved monitoring and enhanced science.

After hearing some blame sector management for fishery troubles during recent roundtable meetings in New Jersey, New Hampshire and New Bedford, Bullard believes the private sector can manage quota with accountability, flexibility and initiative.

“At many meetings, people line up to decry the science and management,” Bullard wrote. “And yet, some of the same people who condemn the status quo are the ones who advocate for no action. It causes me to wonder whether or not we share the same sense of urgency towards improving the accuracy of our data, which is needed to gain more confidence in our scientific models, which is needed to improve management.”

Bullard says he sees a system under a lot of stress, which tends to a lot of blame towards the science, observer coverage levels, illegal discarding, management, fleet consolidation, the sector system, overfishing, warming ocean water, NOAA Fisheries and Councils.

“Just as there is a tendency to blame, there is also the quest for the silver bullet,” Bullard wrote. “While understanding causes is essential to providing solutions, an emphasis on blame can be distracting and destructive, especially if the fingers never point in the mirror.”

Bullard says if anyone thinks the status quo is good enough, then they haven’t been paying attention.

The whole letter can be found here.

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