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November 6, 2002

Mass Fishermen’s Partnership Challenges Fisheries Science:

- Calls for Peer Review of the Science

GLOUCESTER – The Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership (MFP) will challenge NOAA Fisheries science and call for an independent peer review of the latest Northeast fisheries assessment report.

The Partnership plans to offer a slide presentation entitled Murky Waters: The Science Behind Fisheries Management and Amendment 13 at the New England Fishery Management Council meeting at Gloucester High School on Wednesday, November 6, 2002 and again in selected ports in the following weeks.

Prof. Brian Rothschild, Dean, Intercampus Graduate School of Marine Sciences and Technology and University of Massachusetts System Director, School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, has reviewed the MFP presentation and said, "The Fishermen’s Partnership raises questions that need to be evaluated by the Northeast Fisheries Science Task Force."

The Groundfish Assessment Review Meeting (GARM) report from the National Marine Fisheries Service presents data in such a way as to portray an unnecessarily dire assessment of the fish stocks. Fishing in New England has been severely curtailed in recent years to rebuild and husband the resource.

Stock biomass has improved in 19 of 20 stocks since 1995. Fishing mortality rates declined for 15 of 19 stocks during the same period. This recovery is significant, and the fishing industry has suffered to achieve it. Nevertheless, GARM proposes a 50% decrease in fishing to reach new rebuilding targets. Three different sets of rebuilding targets for New England fish stocks have been put forth by NOAA Fisheries in the past year.

The Massachusetts Fishermen's Partnership (MFP) is an umbrella organization of 17 commercial fishing associations representing all gear and geographic sectors of the Massachusetts fishing industry. The organization promotes the common interests and economic viability of commercial fishermen and fishing families.

The MFP joins with industry and congressional leaders in calling for a two-year delay of Amendment 13 to allow time for a Northeast Fisheries Science Task Force, including the participation of fishermen, to resolve the conflicting scientific recommendations and lay a foundation upon which to build sustainable fisheries management.

Partnership Town Meetings

The Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership Murky Waters presentation will also be given at two town meetings where members of the public will be able to ask questions and discuss the issues. The first meeting will be in the Friends’ Room of the Sawyer Free Library, 2 Dale Avenue, Gloucester, Tuesday, November 12, at 7:00 p.m. The second town meeting will be at the Whaling Museum, 18 Johnnycake Hill, New Bedford, on Monday, November 18, at 7:00 p.m. For more information contact the Partnership at (888) 282-8816.

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