New England Fishery Management Council Votes For Herring Cooperatives

Environmental Defense Calls Vote A Major Step Forward in Improving Herring Fishery

March 23, 2004
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(March 23, 2004 - Gloucester , MA)  By a vote of 8 to 5, and one abstention, the New England Fishery Management Council today agreed to include an option for sector-based allocations, more commonly called fishing cooperatives, in its draft amendment to the herring management plan.  Cooperatives encourage fishermen to limit their individual catches to a specific percentage of that fishery's overall quota allowance, thereby managing the fishery in a more rational, effective manner. 

"The Council did the right thing by taking a proactive step toward maintaining the herring fishery, which has taken as much strain as it can withstand," said Environmental Defense marine conservation advocate and council member Sally McGee.  "Fishing cooperatives are an effective way to ensure fishing effort doesn't increase beyond a sustainable level."

The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) is one of eight regional councils in the United States, established by the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (since renamed the Magnuson-Stevens Act).  The NEFMC manages fishery resources within the federal 200-mile limit off the coast of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.  The public will have an opportunity to comment on the herring option and the rest of the plan in the coming months. 

Co-ops promote communities to work together to ensure they have access to an ecologically stable fishery throughout the fishing year, rather than encouraging competition that gluts the market.  Fishing communities that take advantage of co-ops also have the freedom to develop rules internally without high levels of government intervention. 

"It's great for fishing communities, and an important step toward protecting a public resource," said McGee.