NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center
N E W SThe National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) and plaintiffs in the New England groundfish lawsuit have submitted a “Joint Stipulation with Proposed Order” asking that the United States District Court for the District of Columbia order a nine-month extension for implementing Amendment 13 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan.
The extension would be used to conduct further independent peer review of important scientific data on which management of the groundfish fishery is based. The parties to the filing believe that the additional study will help improve the scientific understanding of the groundfish fishery.
If the court agrees, new rules would be in place for the fishing year beginning May 1, 2004. The new rules will bring the fishery management plan into compliance with federal law.
“Our science has the support of outside reviewers, but there remains concern within the fishing community about its use in upcoming tough management decisions,” said Bill Hogarth, NOAA Fisheries director. “Since groundfish stocks are stable or increasing, we can take the time to get the job done to everyone’s satisfaction.”
Fishermen and the council have argued that the court’s tight time frame for implementation of Amendment 13 does not allow for enough public review and input. This request would also provide more time for that process.