After intense lobbying by fishermen, conservation groups, and political representatives, a US district judge has decided that her earlier order restricting fishing in New England waters was too severe. (See "Mayday From New England's Coast," Work & Money, April 29.)
Judge Gladys Kessler agreed that her April mandate to close new areas of the Atlantic to fishing, and reduce the number of fishing boats in the fleet and their total days at sea, could open up new waters to overfishing and cause severe economic hardship among fishermen.
The original formula ordered by Judge Kessler would have reduced fishermen's days at sea by as much as a third, and prevented about 300 fishermen from fishing altogether. The new plan, which imposes lighter restrictions across the board, took effect June 1.
Conservationists have worked for a decade to curtail fishing in the Northeast Atlantic, citing the decline of fish stocks to dangerously low levels since the mid-1990s. The ruling is part of a global effort to address the viability of the world's fish stocks, 70 percent of which are severely overfished, according to the United Nations. Last week, the European Union said it planned to reduce Europe's fishing fleet by close to 9 percent.