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Survey Says: Time for New Fishing System

June 8, 2009

Cambridge, MA – Fisheries are a traditional part of the New England economy, and still are very important to it. Problems of over-fishing off the regions's coasts are the subject of a survey released today by Pew Environment Group, which shows that two-thirds of voters polled in Maine and Massachusetts favor a new management system for New England's fisheries.

In the survey, 750 voters were asked a series of questions about current fishing rules, waste, shrinking fish stocks, and whether they felt the government could be an honest broker between conservationists and the fishing industry.

Chris Schiavone, president of City Square Associates in Cambridge, led the survey taken on behalf of Pew, and he says he was struck by how knowledgeable people were on the subject.

"Folks are aware that over-fishing is a problem, and overwhelmingly a new management system makes a lot of sense to them."

Rebuilding New England's depleted fish stocks and preserving traditional fishing communities are top priorities for Glen Libby, a lifelong, second-generation fisherman from Port Clyde, Maine. He chairs a group called Midcoast Fishermen's Association, and they are changing the way business is done by using methods that reduce impact on fish habitat and the environment, while also bringing in more profit. He says the changes need to be made by everyone in the fishing community, before it's too late.

"We really are trying to preserve what we have left; we really don't want to lose any more here in Maine. It's getting to be a pretty dire situation for the fishermen and the fishing communities."

A series of public hearings on the issue concluded last week, and on June 22 regional fisheries managers will vote on an across-the-board program called sector management, which implements a science-based approach to fishing. Today is the last day for public input before the vote.

More on the survey is available at www.newenglandfishing.org. To make your voice heard, go to that site and click on "get involved."

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - MA