By Representative Tierney
As Times reporter Richard Gaines noted in his March 23 story, last week's rally in Washington, D.C., brought fishermen from communities across the country together to call for needed change.
I was proud to join our area fishermen and lend my voice to the ongoing efforts to bring fair and transparent leadership to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
It is critical that we continue to join together to make the case that the current fisheries management system is not working.
Last week's rally came on the heels of potentially devastating news to our fishing community in New England: the latest stock assessment for Gulf of Maine cod. Fishermen in our region are now facing a reduction in catch limits for cod that could put many families out of work and place a significant burden upon the livelihood of many others.
As I said at the rally and countless times before that, NOAA needs to improve the science behind these stock assessments and Congress needs to reform the system to allow for much needed flexibility. Fishery managers should be able to set rebuilding plans that are reasonable, achievable and that take into account the economic needs of the fishery.
To that end, I am a strong supporter of legislation, the Flexibility and Access in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act (H.R. 3061), that would replace the current arbitrary deadlines and rebuild targets with much needed flexibility.
Additionally, Congressman Barney Frank and I have asked the Inspector General to investigate the overall rule-making process at NOAA and its impact on our fishermen. The IG has begun this investigation, and, similar to my efforts to expose and address NOAA Office of Law Enforcement misconduct, I will continue to stay on the case.
Together, we must work to end the senseless policies that threaten our fishing community and then implement common sense reforms that will allow our fishermen to prosper for years to come.
John F. Tierney represents the 6th Massachusetts District, including all of Cape Ann, in the U.S. House of Representatives.