Last Friday, CLF filed a motion to intervene as a defendant in support of Amendment 16 in a federal lawsuit challenging the new groundfishery management regulations, which went into effect on May 1, 2010. The lawsuit, brought by the cities of Gloucester and New Bedford and members of the fishing industry, broadly challenges the new fishing regulations – known as Amendment 16 – on a variety of grounds. CLF, which has long fought for a science-based, more balanced system of fisheries management to ensure a sustainable fishing industry, supports Amendment 16 as critical to ending decades of overfishing in federal waters off of New England’s coast. CLF will intervene as a defendant with the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the senior officials of which were both named as parties.
“The new rules introduced under Amendment 16 are game-changing,” said Peter Shelley, CLF vice president and director of its Massachusetts Advocacy Center. “They have to be to achieve the balance that is needed between the size of our fishing fleet and the amount of fish New England waters can produce, if we want a sustainable fishing industry for generations to come. Importantly, the rules also introduce unprecedented levels of flexibility into the system in an effort to help the fleet operate more efficiently and safely.”
The 2010 fishing season introduced the most sweeping set of changes to New England groundfish fisheries since the Magnuson-Stevens Act was enacted in 1976, establishing U.S. jurisdiction on fisheries within 200 miles of the coast. Amendment 16 put into place science-based catch limits and accountability measures to minimize overfishing of key groundfish, such as cod and pollock, as well as a new management system called sector allocation, designed to provide fishermen more flexibility in organizing their businesses.
Shelley continued, “Large management changes such as these do not come without myriad frustrations from unintended consequences that need to be addressed. In order to get to the results the broader fishing and conservation communities want from these new rules, everyone – governments, regulators, fishermen and conservation groups – needs to work together to get it right. The early data from these new rules is encouraging. We need to face the inevitable challenges and see this through.”