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Cod Study Mirrors Red Snapper & Gag Grouper

mjacksmjacks Posts: 152 Deckhand
http://www.gloucestertimes.com/opinion/x1666054021/Editorial-NOAA-must-delay-any-limit-changes-for-new-cod-study

December 28, 2011
Editorial: NOAA must delay any limit changes for new cod study

It's interesting to hear that National Marine Fisheries Service administrator Eric Schwaab, suggesting that a dire new survey of cod stocks could be credible, can back up his assessment with such in-depth analysis as "it's quite possible ... something happened in the ocean."

Indeed, his comments — made on the Saving Seafood radio show based out of New Bedford last week — bring even more urgency to the demands of U.S. Sens. John Kerry and congressional lawmakers John Tierney and Barney Frank that, in the wake of the stunning cod figures, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its parent Department of Commerce commission a new study.

To be fair, Schwaab at least acknowledged that the chances 22 million tons of potentially spawning Gulf of Maine cod had somehow disappeared between a positive 2008 study that found the stock healthy and a new one released earlier tis month that shows a 300 percent population drop is "out of the norm."

So there's reason to hope that even he and his NOAA boss, Jane Lubchenco - though still intent on pushing their job-killing catch share management agenda — would see the need for new data.

Yet Schwaab also noted that any new stock survey would not be done before the setting of catch limits for the 2012 fishing year, which begins May 1. And he frighteningly did not acknowledge what should indeed be obvious to all: That NOAA and NMFS simply cannot consider the new Gulf of Maine cod data in setting and new limits.

In citing a time frame for new data, Schwaab said it may well take might take the New England Fishery Management Council two meetings to determine how to address the new assessments, which concluded that the size of the spawning aged Gulf of Maine cod had declined from 34,000 metric tons to just 12,000.

That's fine, to an extent. But it should be apparent to all that a third study is clearly needed to rectify discrepancies between the 2008 Gulf of Maine cod assessment and the more recent figures. And while the New England council is mulling over what to use in setting a new year's worth of limit, there's no reason to delay launching a study that should provide or confirm the data that's needed.

Schwaab can talk all he wants about the potential that there may be credibility to both studies. But until a new, viable, independently monitored study — like the one Kerry has proposed, with full participation and input from fishing industry representatives — is carried out, NOAA has no truly viable data with which to make any changes.

Let's face it: NOAA has a track record for not only poor data collection and analysis, but for admittedly using it in the past. And the last thing either the fishing industry or NOAA can afford is a repetition of the infamous turn-of-then-century "Trawlgate" debacle. That's when federal officials conceded they had used the wrong nets to catch and track species, had admittedly missed tens of thousands of fish, yet stood by the data to set fishing limits because it as the only data they had.

Brian Rothschild, a marine scientist at University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, said he believes the basic to answer is to revise the entire stock assessment process. "We're looking at stocks in too complicated a way," he said. And that's an idea worth exploring.

In the meantime, however, NOAA and NMFS cannot be allowed to set new limits for the next fishing year based on data that would bring even more devastation to the fishery, quite possibly without credible scientific backing.

"Something happened in the ocean?" Perhaps. But what cannot happen in the ocean now is another governmental move aimed right at yet another economic disaster.

Replies

  • Yep, sounds exactly like what happened with Gag and ARS.
    They will never admit to being wrong.
    THERE SHOULD BE NO COMMERCIAL FISHING ALLOWED FOR ANY SPECIES THAT IS CONSIDERED OVERFISHED.
  • surfmansurfman WC FLPosts: 6,022 Admiral
    mjacks wrote: »
    Let's face it: NOAA has a track record for not only poor data collection and analysis, but for admittedly using it in the past. And the last thing either the fishing industry or NOAA can afford is a repetition of the infamous turn-of-then-century "Trawlgate" debacle. That's when federal officials conceded they had used the wrong nets to catch and track species, had admittedly missed tens of thousands of fish, yet stood by the data to set fishing limits because it as the only data they had.

    Sounds very familiar.
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.

    Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.  Will Rogers
  • EggsuckindogEggsuckindog Posts: 1,526 Captain
    Best available
    1976 SeaCraft master Angler - Merc 200 XRi
    dscf1243-1.jpg
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