Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans, applauded a decision made yesterday by the United States District Court in Washington, D.C. to establish annual catch limits and accountability measures for five fish species in New England and the Mid-Atlantic, ensuring that the species are not overfished. Below is a statement in response to the decision by Oceana’s New England representative Gib Brogan.
“Yesterday’s decision by the United States District Court is a win for ocean conservation in New England and the Mid-Atlantic. This ruling requires that protections are established for Atlantic halibut, ocean pout, windowpane flounder, Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic winter flounder and wolffish, some of which are currently overfished.
In the first major court decision concerning the implementation of the Magnuson Stevens Reauthorization Act of 2006 – the law that governs fishery management in the U.S. – it was ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) must ensure that overfishing does not occur for these five species. Specifically, the court found that while the fish are discarded by 98 percent of the fishery, they are still being caught, and thus may still be overfished, as bycatch. Accountability measures for each of these species are needed to keep this fishery in check.
This ruling will serve as a precedent to other fisheries facing overfishing as a result of bycatch. It will also require the implementation of accountability measures once an annual catch limit is exceeded.
Oceana is disappointed that the Court failed to require a more thorough environmental analysis of the fisheries and did not require more monitoring of bycatch. Oceana believes that NMFS is turning a blind eye to the unlawful catch of a wide range of species in these waters, including striped bass and summer flounder.
Oceana was represented by O’Melveny and Myers of New York City in this case, which was originally filed in 2010.”
Source: Oceana, December 21, 2011, Washington