As Massachusetts fishermen meet in Washington today to demand higher catch limits and millions of dollars in federal aid, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree is urging regulators to stick with the current system.
"Maine fishermen are innovative and have realized that the reduction in fishing quotas over the years harms both their businesses and the resource. Sectors allow them to develop sustainable business plans and not waste fish, which means for the most part they are making more money under the new system," Pingree said.
Last May, the "days at sea" regulatory system was replaced with a system that allocates catch based on sectors. Under the sector system, revenue for Maine fishermen is up over the previous year. Fishermen can opt to fish under the old days at sea but preliminary data from the fishing year that ends April 30th indicates that fishermen in sectors are doing better.
Massachusetts fishermen have requested tens of millions of dollars in emergency economic relief and an increase in catch allotments, a request that has been turned down by the U.S. Commerce Department, the White House, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
"Sectors have successfully reduced the by-catch in the fishery and while there are still some issues to work through and improvements to be made in the science, we can't afford unnecessary bailouts that don't help the resource and reward bad behavior," Pingree said.
Congresswoman Pingree recently spoke with Eric Schwaab, the top federal fisheries regulator, and reinforced her support for the new sectors management system and urged him to stay the course.