NOAA Cancels Clam Survey Over High Fuel Costs
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration yesterday canceled the annual Atlantic Clam Survey because of unexpectedly high fuel costs.
The National Fisheries Institute of McLean, Va., says it's a bad decision that could have long-term repercussions.
"Everyone is feeling the pinch of gas prices. But to cancel this survey is not like canceling a trip to the mall in your SUV in order to save a few bucks," says NFI President John Connelly. "This decision could have devastating effects on the clam community. We are talking about people's livelihoods here."
The survey, conducted every three years, determines how many clams watermen are allowed to harvest. Without the survey, government regulators rely on equations that are based on old harvest numbers rather than a true scientific analysis of the current stock, says NFI.
NOAA announced the cancellation Thursday at a meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, less than two weeks before the survey was scheduled to begin.
"This could cut limits by 20 percent, 30 percent or more - it has the potential to shut some folks down," says Steve Blount, VP of Blount Fine Foods in Fall River, Mass., and chairman of NFI's Clam Committee. "We are dealing with a nightmare scenario."