CHOIR: Coalition for the Atlantic Herring Fishery's Orderly, Informed, and Responsible Long-Term Development


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United in support: CHOIR 'sign on' letter to NMFS regarding passage of the 1A Buffer Zone, etc.

September 28, 2006

_CHOIR Sign On Letter to NMFS-

(Note the list of signatories supporting the letter to see the broad support for this action!)

Letter as Submitted during first round of approval comments:


Dr. William T. Hogarth
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries
National Marine Fisheries Service
NOAA Fisheries
1315 East West Highway SSMC3
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Patricia Kurkul
Regional Administrator
One Blackburn Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930

Dear Assistant Administrator Hogarth and Regional Administrator Kurkul:

This letter is written on behalf of the CHOIR Coalition (Coalition for the Atlantic Herring Fishery’s Orderly, Informed, and Responsible Long-Term Development) and other organizations to show our strong support for Amendment 1, as submitted by the New England Fishery Management Council. (NEFMC Final Draft Herring Amendment 1, Section 4.4) This Amendment includes, among other things, a purse seine/fixed gear (PS/FG) only area in Area 1A from June through September.

CHOIR’s membership represents tens of thousands of individuals who have consistently voiced their concern over (1) the negative impacts that the midwater trawl fleet has had on the inshore herring stock, and (2) the discarding of marine mammals, seabirds, herring, striped bass, tuna, whiting, and groundfish associated with the midwater trawl fleet. Commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen, whale watch companies, and many others who support a healthy ecosystem in the Gulf of Maine depend on the implementation of the PS/FG only area as part of the responsible management of the herring trawl fleet.

As you know, the Council voted overwhelmingly (13-2) in favor of the PS/FG only area at its January-February 2006 meeting in Portland, ME. This vote followed an extended amendment development process, a thorough public comment period which drew wide ranging comments from diverse marine stakeholders, and extensive Council deliberations. The will of the Council was clearly expressed in this final vote. The Agency should give great weight to decisions made by the Council when considering Agency approval of a fishery management action.

Public comment and Council deliberation on Amendment 1 to the Herring FMP was dominated by support for the PS/FG only area for the Gulf of Maine from June 1 to September 30. The PS/FG measure was deemed necessary to address the negative impacts resulting from coastal herring localized resource depletion, bycatch, and impacts on protected species caused by the indiscriminate fishing techniques employed by the herring midwater trawl fleet. The PS/FG conservation and management measure addresses several of the Council’s longstanding objectives including preventing overfishing, preventing overfishing of discrete spawning components, orderly development of the fishery, full utilization of OY, minimizing the race to fish, and promoting and supporting research. It also addresses several National Standards minimize bycatch and bycatch mortality and moves the region toward more responsible management of an essential element of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem. (NEFMC Final Draft Herring Amendment 1, Section 6.5)

Management actions using gear-specific time/area closures are common in the Northeast region and across the nation. The analysis in Amendment 1 indicates that the herring fishery will continue to be productive and profitable following implementation of a seasonal PS/FG area. The Agency should use this opportunity to implement a time-area gear restriction in the Gulf of Maine.

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) should uphold the will of the Council and respect the concerns of the people by implementing the purse seine/fixed gear only area inshore. Failing to implement these measures to safeguard the public herring resource will have serious effects on the Gulf of Maine ecosystem and will be met with a firm response from the range of stakeholders who have watched and participated throughout the development of Amendment 1.

We originally expected the purse seine/fixed gear only area to be in place for the summer of 2006 to offer some relief to the beleaguered Gulf of Maine ecosystem. Another summer has passed with no relief, and the results are as bad as anticipated with reports of scarce forage, predators, and mammals in areas where such fauna were historically present. It is essential to our livelihoods that the purse seine/fixed gear only area is fully implemented by June 2007.

We intend to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that the Gulf of Maine herring resource is managed for the future benefit of all stakeholders.


Peter Baker
Chairman, CHOIR Coalition
On behalf of the undersigned organizations and businesses

Maine Lobstermen’s Association
Downeast Lobstermen’s Association
East Coast Tuna Association
General Category Tuna Association
North Shore Community Tuna Association
Northeast Seafood Coalition
New Hampshire Commercial Fishermen’s Association
Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association
Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association
Stonington Fisheries Alliance
Midcoast Fishermen’s Association
Downeast Fixed Gear Association
Georges Bank Cod Hook Sector
Georges Bank Cod Fixed Gear Sector
Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance
Northeast Hook Fishermen’s Association
Cobscook Bay Fishermen’s Association
Downeast Groundfish Initiative
Miss Halie Fisheries
Friendship Fisheries
Burton G. Fisheries
Christina M Fisheries
Elsam Corp.
Willis of New Hampshire

Recreational Fishing Alliance
Rhode Island Saltwater Angler’s Association
Massachusetts Striped Bass Association
Northeast Charterboat Captain’s Association
Stellwagen Bank Charter Boat Association
Massachusetts Beach Buggy Association
Massachusetts’s Bay Guides

Sushi Hunter Charters, NH
Captain Bills Charters, NH
Reel Action Charters, NH
Northwind Charters, ME
Lethal Weapon Charters, ME
Hilton’s Sport Dock, Newburyport, MA
Kittery Deep Sea Fishing, LLC
Quoddy Dam Charter Boats

Yankee Fleet Whale Watch and Charter
Bar Harbor Whale Watch
Portuguese Princess Whale Watch
Newburyport Whale Watch
Deborah Ann Whale Watch
Boothbay Whale Watch
Olde Port Mariner Fleet Whale Watch and Charter
Harris Whale Watch
Allied Whale Watch
Downeast Windjammer Cruises
Bar Harbor Whale Museum
Adrea Eco Adventures
Schooner Halie and Matthew

Penobscot East Resource Center
Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies
Environment Maine
National Coalition for Marine Conservation
There would eventually be many more signatories than this during the second round of comments during the process of NMFS review of the Council’s final amendment. An addendum was submitted along with the original letter (seen above) that included these other groups.

Check out the ‘About Us’ section of this site to see the list of all supporters over the years.

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