In arguments made today before Federal Judge Rya W. Zobel on the federal lawsuit regarding the New England fisheries management system known as Amendment 16, Conservation Law Foundation senior counsel Peter Shelley defended the process in which the new rules were developed and agreed upon at the New England Fishery Management Council and re-affirmed CLF’s support for the Amendment.
Shelley stated, “This lawsuit is not so much about the specific merits of Amendment 16, but more about the integrity of the process by which the new rules were developed and vetted and set into motion. The process, which involved all of the fishing interests, including some who today decry it and the outcome it produced, was fair, rational and legal. New Bedford’s interests were directly represented in those lengthy deliberations and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts participated actively in both the Amendment 16 science decision-making and the policy development. This is the New England Council’s plan, not a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) plan.”
“CLF supports the Council’s approval of Amendment 16 not because it is perfect, but because it represents a reasonable decision, reached after an extended transparent public debate that reasonably meets the Magnuson Stevens Act and National Environmental Policy Act requirements while attempting to provide additional flexibility for fishermen in the region to fish more efficiently and profitably if they want to. The related issues of consolidation and fairness in access to fish are on the Council’s plate now and should be carefully analyzed and debated.”
After the hearing, Shelley observed, “What we have learned over the past fifteen years is that strong and effective management of this important public resource, coupled with some degree of luck with Mother Nature, can restore fish populations to high levels and support a vital and stable domestic fishing industry. Amendment 16 is designed to accomplish that objective and is consistent with the Magnuson Act.”
Read the text of Peter’s full argument here.