L E T T E R S   T O   T H E   E D I T O R

Maybe This

To the Editor:

Fishery management in New England wants everyone to stop fishing for cod. Don’t do anything to rebuild the stock. Stop catching cod. Wait for the cod stocks to rebuild themselves.

You can’t rebuild anything by just doing nothing. What you can do is build a fish hatchery. Cod eggs are delicate when they first hatch. They float about in the ocean, eventually sinking to the ocean floor. If you were to hatch the eggs in a hatchery and raise the cod until it was ready to live on the ocean floor you would greatly increase that fish’s chance of growing up.

In the late 1800s there was a codfish hatchery in Newfoundland. The people involved thought their efforts were effective. Cod were abundant in the area for a few years. There have been a lot of hatcheries over the years, Many of the old ones were thought to be successful. Their funding dried up.

Today in Texas they are hatching fish. Their scientists say the hatcheries have helped to rebuild the stocks. One hatchery has released 115 million fish. They have a goal of 15 million fish a year. The wild population of these fish stocks is stable.

Mississippi, Maryland, Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, California, Oregon, and even Hawaii have some sort of hatchery program.

There are scientists that say hatcheries and fish stock replenishment and fish stock enhancement are fishery management tools that can be used and have been proven successful. They can do something that is more than wait and see if the cod stocks will rebuild themselves. They can hatch and release fish from hatcheries. It doesn't have to be a giant hatchery. Just make some effort in trying to increase the population of New England groundfish. Nature sometimes needs a helping hand.

Jim Kimbrell,
Shelbourne, Nova Scotia, Canada



Going To The Dogs

To the editor:

I just picked up your paper at a fishermen’s supply house in Portland and read about the poor fish stock reports in “Severe Impacts On Cod” and nowhere have you mentioned anything about a fish that is not only totally rebuilt but is over 100 percent rebuilt. This fish is being protected by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) because the law says so. This fish as described in the booklet put out by the State of Maine and which is also is on their website says it all.

This fish is a powerful and efficient predator and feeds on the young of cod, haddock, herring, and other bottom feeding fish. The numbers of these fish have been increasing at an outrageous rate. Their reproduction rate described in a 1950s survey is all wrong and has been dispelled by a scientist at the New England College in Biddeford. Professor James Sulokowski heads a program that has been studying the Spiny Dogfish and his efforts are proving that this predator has been eating fishermen out of house and home, and boat, and job for years and no one is doing anything about it.

Myself and a few friends (tuna fishermen) have tried to get something done about this problem for years. We held a forum at UNE that was well-attended and that started our quest to increase quotas on the dogfish. The imbalance of this creature over the rest of the stocks tells us that there is something very wrong in the Gulf of Maine. We held a dogfish tournament to tag and release these fish and two years ago we tagged several dogfish with sattelite tags.

The information gathered told us that the stock of dogfish stays in the Gulf of Maine year round and never stop eating the juvenile fish of other stocks. This means they will never get to be large enough to have their chance to reproduce and increase the stocks or end up as keepers in a fisherman’s net. The hundreds of thousands of pounds of fish eaten by the dogfish every season could mean millions of pounds of stock increases and a real rebuilding of the fish stocks in the Gulf of Maine.

In our efforts to have the quotas on the dogfish increased to control their numbers we have hit the well-known “stone wall” of bureaucrats and organizations like the “Ocean Conservancy” who are focused on putting us all on the dock forever.

We have learned that the only way to change the quotas on dogfish enough to reduce their numbers to the same percentage as the other stocks, is to get the US Congress to allow it to happen. The old adage, “it will take an act of congress” is very true. It is what we need to do.

After the forum in Biddeford we spoke off the record with NMFS people and were told that day, that the only way to control the dogs was to have Congress amend the Magnusson Act to allow the individual control of species so NMFS could increase the quotas on the dogs. In so doing, the immediate result would be: 1. Putting fishermen to work catching the dogfish.(jobs) 2. Starting up plants to process them.(jobs) 3. Find markets to utilize the product.(jobs) There were dogfish markets years ago and there will be some today. Most important fishing dogfish will take the pressure away from the juveniles of other species and LET THEM GROW.

It’s going to take a huge effort to make this happen. All fishermen both commercial and recreational have to pull together and get this done.

The place we have to start is right here in Maine and let our elected officials know what is going on with our fisheries, and how to make changes that will allow for real fisheries management. I did talk with Representative Chellie Pingree at the Fishermen’s Fourm a couple of years ago and she just might be the right person to spearhead this effort.

Mike Breton
Gray, ME


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