On Monday, March 19 I attended the New England Marine Fisheries Management Council hearing on Amendment 5 in Fairhaven. I hitched a ride with the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association. About 100-120 people attended.
Two members of the Atlantic herring fleet spoke and maintained that they had a "clean" fishery and that they were providing a valuable service and also feeding the starving people in Nigeria and New Bedford.
All of the other speakers were in remarkable agreement on 5 issues:
1. 100% observer coverage; some argued for 3-4 observers per vessel
2. No dumping at sea; all catch must be accounted for
3. All catch must be weighed.
4. No midwater trawling in areas closed to groundfishing
5. River herring must be protected (but no one specified how that should be done)
Only one person spoke directly to the issue of river herring bycatch .
For folks planning on attending the Plymouth hearing on Tuesday, March 27, I suggest you bring a short script with specific recommendations and read it at the hearing, then submit your script to the recorder. Most people did this. I was pleased to see that Sarah Peake (MA State Representative, 4th Barnstable District) sent a staffer to read comments. A representative from the Nantucket Board of Selectmen also attended.
Consider carpooling with other herring count volunteers if you are traveling to Plymouth.
-Barbara Brennessel, Wellfleet Herring Count Volunteer