Massachusetts Congressmen Barney Frank, John Tierney, and William Keating, fired off a letter to Samuel D. Rauch III, Acting Assistant Administrator for Fisheries.
They are concerned about reliability regarding the Yellow tail stock assessment that is far from a stock assessment that should be used for any management decisions setting policy regarding catch limits or allocations that have the ability to destroy the New England ground fish, and scallop industry's.
What the boys are sayin' is the assessment sucks! And Sam knows it sucks, because he went out of the way to hold the Yellow tail working group meeting in May. It was revealed that this survey is not being conducted to catch Yellow tail by NEFSC scientist Russ Brown, who told the group trade offs must be made!
Sorry Russ. There's a huge investment in equipment for your research vessel and crew, and they are not being used properly for assessment purposes. You told us. We heard you. So have the Congressmen!
July 31, 2012
Samuel D. Rauch III
Acting Assistant Administrator for Fisheries
NOAA Fisheries Service
1315 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Re: Georges Bank Yellowtail Flounder Assessment
As representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts we are very concerned about
the future of the Georges Bank Yellowtail stock. As you know, Georges Bank yellowtail is a
critical stock for both the groundfish and the scallop industries. Knowing how important this
stock is to our region's fishermen, we were dismayed to learn about the troubled state of the
assessment. As we understand it, the assessment is not suitable for catch advice in its current
state. We fear that if the agency does not take the appropriate actions both critical fisheries will
be in jeopardy, along with the coastal communities that depend on them. This is an unacceptable
outcome on the basis of an unsuitable stock assessment. Accordingly, we strongly urge you to
advise the New England Fishery Management Council and its Scientific and Statistical
Committee on the proper terms of reference for reviewing the Georges Bank yellowtail
assessment and an explanation of available alternatives for setting catch advice.
When Congress passed the Magnuson Act, it required the agency to set annual catch
limits, but we also required NMFS to rely on the best scientific advice available. It was our
intent by including the best scientific advice requirement, that NMFS would make decisions on
ACL's that were based on objective catch advice derived from a credible scientific source, not
whatever science happens to be available. IfNMFS pushes ahead with basing its catch advice on
an extremely flawed Georges Bank yellowtail assessment, it will violate our Congressional intent
and the law's requirement to use the best scientific advice available. NMFS must take the proper
course of action and not base catch advice upon a clearly flawed assessment. The use of
alternative catch advice is justified and needed in this case. Flawed science cannot be the basis
of significant cuts to our critical fishing industry.
Additionally, we believe that it is imperative that fishermen be included in the collection
methods that determine how a fish stock is managed and allocated.and we urge you to
implement side-by-side trawl survey tows using a commercial vessel to compare data and
provide a more reliable assessment of fishery species. Participation in the collection process will
increase trust in the surveys, providing a stronger foundation to cooperatively build our
We are appreciative of the initial steps you've taken to address these difficulties facing
the fisheries and hope you will use all methods available to help prevent financial collapse and
further consolidation in the industry.
Thank you for your time and attention. We look forward to your reply.
Scrap the current government NOAA stock assessment, and replace this failed system with tried and true collaborative research between fishermen and Scientists from UMass Dartmouth's School of Marine Science and Technology, and Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
They already have an excellent track record established, and frankly, it makes the current Bigelow trawl surveys look like a waste of money. A BIG waste of money.