Federal Government Sued Over Failure to Monitor Catch Limits

Written by on May 29, 2013 in Policy & Ocean Law
Fishing boats in New England.

Fishing boats in New England. Photo credit: NOAA.

Yesterday, international advocacy group Oceana filed a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for its failure to set adequate observer coverage levels for the New England groundfish fishery for cod, haddock and flounder.

Observers are trained and independent scientists who work onboard fishing vessels to monitor and report how many fish are caught and how many are discarded. These observers provide that data to NMFS in order to ensure that quotas are not exceeded. Because this information is used to set catch limits for the entire fishery, it is extremely important that it is accurate.

“In order to restore New England’s groundfish populations to healthy levels, we need enough monitoring to enforce scientifically based catch limits,” said Gib Brogan, Northeast representative for Oceana. “Impartial observers on fishing vessels are crucial in getting accurate data on how many fish are being taken out of the ocean, which helps to make sure fishing stays within limits so populations can rebuild in the future.”

The current law requires there to be enough observers on enough vessels to allow for accurate fishery management decision-making. Oceana is filing a lawsuit because they believe the government set observer levels at the lowest possible levels using “an unlawful interpretation” of the legal requirement.

“By filing this lawsuit, we hope to compel NMFS to take seriously its task of determining the level of observer coverage needed and to get those observers out on the water, instead of allowing overfishing to further harm New England’s fisheries,” said Oceana assistant general counsel Eric Bilsky.

To learn more:

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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