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Regulators Urged to Move Forward on Increasing Fish Limits

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Congresswoman Chellie Pingree urges Obama Administration to increase catch limits on pollack as Maine fishermen argue that they're too low

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree said today that federal regulators are headed in the right direction and should substantially increase the catch limits for a key fish stock.

"National Marine Fisheries agreed to go back and look at the science and they are finding what many fishermen have known--the limits they had set on pollock were way too low and they should be increased," Pingree said. "I've talked to fishermen in Maine who say one good tow could use up their entire pollock quota and then they'd have to tie up for the rest of the year."

Pingree, along with other members of Congress from New England, wrote to Commerce Secretary Gary Lock last month and asked him to increase catch limits. After looking at new data, yesterday regulators said that they hope to make an emergency increase to limits on pollock from 6 million to 35 million pounds a year. The preliminary decision is subject to further research, but Pingree said she is hopeful that fisheries regulators will be able to move forward quickly on increasing the pollock quota.

Last month fishermen started operating under new regulations that group them by sectors. Each sector is given a catch limit for various species, and once the limit is reached on a single species, all the fishermen in the sector have to stop fishing for the year.

"We have to make sure we manage fish stocks so they are sustainable and good science is used to set the limits," Pingree said. "But the science doesn't support some of these quotas. I'm glad regulators have agreed to take another look at pollock but they also need to look at the stocks of other fish as well. The jobs of New England fishing families are at stake here."

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