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More support for Monitoring Alternative 3
April 01, 2009
Commercial Fisheries News
As a commercial tuna and groundfish fisherman, I have been following the development of Herring Amendment 4 very closely over the last couple years. Amendment 1- especially the Purse Seine/Fixed Gear only rule- did a lot to help out our fishery and all the others in this region and many of us feel that this new amendment is also critical to our future.
Myself and most fishermen in New England worry about the levels of bycatch and dumping in the herring fishery and when the reason this amendment was initiated was because fishery managers shared these same concerns. A lot of hard work has been done over the last year and just recently the Council approved a set of draft monitoring alternatives to moved forward for further development. While there are currently four alternatives, I feel that one of these- Alternative 3- has a lot of promise and I hope the managers will decide upon this alternative when the time comes.
Alternative 3 proposes a maximized retention system for the herring fishery. The goal would be to minimize dumping as much as possible. Electronic monitoring (cameras) would be used to monitor compliance with this rule. The final key part of the system would be a strong shoreside monitoring program which would for bycatch and catch to be sampled onshore. This system would address two of the issues many of us have with the fishery: a low level of observer coverage and a large level of dumping of catch. At the same time, if done right, it would be much more effective system- both in terms of cost and data gathering.
This system would also be highly flexible and therefore I feel it would benefit the herring fisherman. Instead of having one specific system for all boats, vessels could develop their own systems under what is called the ‘Catch Monitoring and Control Plan’, a system in use in other fisheries in this country already. This flexibility should be welcomed by herring fisherman because it allows them to do it their own way, based on their current operations.
I think that if Alternative 3 is chosen that we will be able to solve the problems we have right now and in a way that benefits all- the other fisheries in the region, managers, and herring fishermen, too. There is a lot of work ahead but I just hope that when the time comes, this alternative is passed. We need to know what is being caught and dumped and this system is the best way to do it.