EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

June 16, 2013

Column:

The Fishery Conservation and Management Act was passed in 1976. This act created the National Marine Fisheries Service (as part of NOAA) and established a 200-mile fishery conservation zone. Its function is to insure sustainability in the fishing industry by establishing a fishing capacity reduction program and promoting research on fishery management, thereby insuring sustainability.

The NMFS, to insure stability, has put limits/quotas on the amount of each species that each commercial fishing boat can harvest, much to the chagrin of the fishermen. To no one’s surprise, many fishermen blame the NMFS for reducing their income and forcing their colleagues out of business. But what are fishermen really to blame for dwindling fish

Stocks?

In 2012, NOAA allowed commercial fishermen to catch 6,700 metric tons of cod, 1.1 million pounds of flounder and 9,000 metric tons of haddock (2010 figures) in the Gulf of Maine. This translates to 97,643 pounds per day, a considerable amount. Hold that thought.

In the 1960’s, it was estimated that there were approximately 10,000 seals remaining in the Gulf of Maine, the primary species being gray (880 pounds), harp (300 pounds), hooded (440 pounds) and harbor(245 pounds). Seal weights are from NOAA.

As a result of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, all seals became protected, and the population has conservatively increased to 100,000 in the Gulf of Maine. The penalty for killing a protected marine mammal is $100,000 and up to 1 year in jail.

A seal can eat up to 8 percent of its body weight per day. If you multiply 100,000 x .08 x an average weight of 500 pounds, then seals in the Gulf of Maine can consume up to 4 million pounds of fish per day -- considerably more than what fishermen are catching. Even if you take a conservative estimate and assume the average seal weight is 250 pounds, that figure becomes 2 million pounds of fish per day, still considerably more than what is allocated to cod, flounder and haddock fishermen.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion

Helium debate
Helium
Political News