Snowe Questions Accuracy of Groundfish Stock Assessment Data


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
August 28, 2008

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) yesterday addressed a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Inspector General Todd Zinser asking that he launch an independent investigation to verify the veracity of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center's (NFSC) stock-assessment data for groundfish.

Fishermen question the accuracy the information, claiming that fisheries managers have set biomass targets unrealistically high and that other biological data has been erroneously analyzed, says Snowe. Inaccurate stock-assessment data can lead to ineffective management measures that adversely impact the fishing industry and the ecosystem, she adds.

"If these allegations are true, the implications of inaccurate stock-assessment data and ineffective management regulations on New England's fishing industry would be monumentally grave and costly," says Snowe. "For an industry that reeled in more than $4.1 billion to our region over the past five years, we must ensure that the decisions NFSC and the New England Fishery Management Council are making - most immediately in regard to the groundfish industry - are based on sound, credible science. By performing an independent investigation of the NFSC to examine the credibility of the claims, the Department of Commerce can possibly save our valuable and cherished fishing industry from an economic and ecological disaster."

"When Congress last reauthorized the Magnuson-Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), we included a mandate to set catch limits based on scientific assessments," continues Snowe. "If there are flaws in the scientific process, this investigation will uncover them and if not, our managers and fishermen will be able to move ahead in developing management measures with confidence that the underlying data form a sound scientific basis for effective management measures."

The letter was co-signed by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).

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