(WASHINGTON – Oct. 1, 2020) Yesterday the New England Fishery Management Council approved Amendment 23 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan to improve data collection in the New England groundfish fishery. Amendment 23 will require 100% monitoring of groundfish trips for the next four years, provided that funding is made available to cover costs. In the absence of adequate funding, the fleet must maintain a minimum of 40% monitoring during the four-year period, after which the NEFMC will revisit the policy. If approved by the Secretary of Commerce, the policy is expected to come into effect in spring of 2021.
EDF has urged the council to adopt 100% monitoring. EDF has also supported the widespread uptake of electronic monitoring — a cost-effective, less cumbersome and more flexible alternative to human observers on vessels. The following is a statement from Eric Schwaab, senior vice president of EDF Oceans program:
“We are encouraged to see the council approve Amendment 23. Full monitoring of fishing activity is a key component of a sustainable, healthy and well-managed fishery. On the west coast, 100% monitoring has helped support remarkable improvements in groundfish recovery and sustainability, which is improving fishing opportunity. That’s why we’ve advocated for 100% monitoring for the New England groundfish fishery. It is an important step to similar recovery of stocks in the region.
“Despite the progress made in Amendment 23, the cost issue remains an impediment to unequivocal 100% monitoring required to collect reliable and sufficient data on landings and discards. Further investments will be needed to bring monitoring to the target level and keep it there.
“Broader use of electronic monitoring presents a great opportunity to cost-effectively meet monitoring needs while reducing public and private cost burdens. Electronic monitoring has been piloted in New England and its expanded use should be a cornerstone of effective monitoring going forward.
“EDF supports approval of this important amendment by the Secretary of Commerce and will continue to work with members of Congress to allocate the necessary resources.”