MYSTIC, CT – In a stunning turn of events, the New England Fishery Management Council has decided to allow further consideration of new proposals for Amendment 18 to the groundfish plan that would create a different playing field for vessels fishing in the inshore vs. offshore portions of the Gulf of Maine.
During its April 22-24 meeting here, the council was scheduled to sign off on a range of alternatives to send to public hearing this summer to address Amendment 18’s goals, which involve promoting fleet diversity and preventing excessive consolidation in the groundfish fishery.
After the council selected several options to establish accumulation caps and other measures (see story next page), Massachusetts council member David Pierce made a motion that, despite advance warning, still hit most people like a brick. At its core was a return to trip limits, which no longer apply to sector fishermen and were loathed by many in the past.
The council did not support this possibility and instead charged its groundfish committee with developing additional measures for Amendment 18 “that would address potential concentrations of effort in the inshore Gulf of Maine and impacts on Gulf of Maine cod and other depleted stocks without reestablishing trip limits.”
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