Congressman-elect Seth Moulton continued his campaign in support of the commercial fishing industry today, saying fishermen should have a greater role in stock assessments and other areas of fishery management.
Speaking to about 50 people at the Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Association's annual meeting at The Gloucester House, Moulton said fishermen should be given a more active part in determining their own fate.
"At the end of the day, we all want the same thing, and that's a sustainable fishery" Moulton said. "The idea that there has to be continual conflict is the wrong way to look at it."
Moulton said NOAA Fisheries should concentrate on devising programs that call for more collaborative partnerships between the fishermen and the federal agency _ particularly its scientific elements _ to provide a more balanced and comprehensive system for determining the state of the fishery.
He criticized NOAA for adhering to a system of management that has continually failed in the past to strike a balance between protecting the fish stocks and allowing fishermen to make a living.
"Obviously, what has been done has not been successful," Moulton said, adding that it is "fundamentally difficult" to believe in a system that has failed so consistently.
Moulton, who will be sworn into office on Jan. 6, succeeds John Tierney as the congressman for Massachusetts' 6th congressional district. On Sunday, the Democrat from Salem reiterated his pledge to have at least one member of his staff dedicated to fishing issues.
Following his talk, Moulton was asked if he could envision a day when there would be an independent, non-governmental body that could provide a more objective scientific assessment of both the stock of individual fish species and the overall health of the Northeast multispecies groundfish fishery.
"I think it's too early to say, but that's certainly an option," Moulton said. "The other option is to get the fishermen themselves involved doing some of the science. That's worked in fisheries in other parts of the country."