Mass. attorney general suing NOAA over fishy fishing restrictions

coakley_fishermen

Attorney General Martha Coakley on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for alleged over-restriction of the state’s famous fishing industry.

“NOAA’s new regulations are essentially a death penalty on the fishing industry in Massachusetts as we know it,” Coakley said during a media briefing Thursday at the Boston Fish Pier.

The new regulations reduce the allowable catch for New England groundfish by 77 percent to allow the replenishment of certain species, like haddock, cod and yellowtail flounder. This year’s cod quotas are equivalent to about 6 percent of the landings of Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine cod in 1981, according to Reuters. Researchers at the University of New Hampshire estimate that cod stocks have declined by about 90 percent in the last 50 years due to overfishing and other changes to marine ecosystems.

Standing in front of a fishing boat Thursday, Gloucester fisherman Joe Orlando said his livelihood has been slashed before his eyes since the cap went into effect on May 1.

“We won’t be allowed to bring in enough catch this year to even pay my business’ debts. I am in financial ruin. This fishery is in a disaster and we need help,” Orlando said.

Orlando said three years ago, he caught 100,000 pounds of cod, but now he is only allowed to catch 16,000 pounds, which he said “doesn’t cut it.”

The lawsuit alleges that NOAA did not use the best scientific information available to come up with fish counts and did not consider the consider the economic impacts on the fishing industry. If the state wins, NOAA would be blocked from enforcing the regulations in Massachusetts.

John Bullard, NOAA’s Northeast Region Administrator, on Thursday acknowledged that the restrictions would impact fisherman, but defended the federal agency’s decision to put them in place.

“We know that the quota cuts this year for groundfish fishermen for several key stocks, including cod, are severe. However, given the poor condition of these stocks and the phased approach we took to reducing fishing effort to help ease the economic impacts on fishermen in 2012, the cuts are necessary.”

“We need to focus our energies on identifying constructive solutions for helping fishermen such as refocusing effort on healthy, abundant groundfish and other species,” Bullard said. “It is time for us to look forward, not backward, if we are going to be able to help fishermen through this difficult transition.”

The lawsuit claims the  restrictions will have the most impact in Gloucester and New Bedford.

Gloucester Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante on Thursday accused NOAA of taking aim at local fishermen for exposing excessive regulation enforcement and fines.

“The dirty little secret is that this isn’t about fish,” Ferrante said. “This is about the vindictive agency.”

The entire lawsuit can be seen at mass.gov/ago.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

News

Mets mascot Mr. Met target of Bill Clinton…

Mets mascot Mr. Met has told how he ended up in the crosshairs of a Secret Service sniper rifle. The man behind the Mr. Met…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Local

African couple claiming misidentification in robbery case to…

At a bail hearing today for Vickson and Lorfu Korlewala, charged in the robbery of an 80-year-old woman, bail was reduced from $1 million total to $500,000.

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

NHL

Rangers draw first blood against Flyers in Game…

Brad Richards and Derek Stepan scored power-play goals 47 seconds apart to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 win.

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.