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   NOAA Lifts Groundfishing Ban On Northeast Sector IX Vessels; Will Issue Interim Rule
by Saving Seafood
Posted: Friday, July 20, 2018 at 3:44PM EDT

WASHINGTON -- NOAA is scheduled to publish an interim final rule that “determines the quota overages that Northeast Fishery Sector IX is responsible for paying back, allocates annual catch entitlements to Northeast Fishery Sectors VII and IX for the 2018 fishing year, approves a new lease-only operations plan for Northeast Fishery Sector IX, and approves a substantive amendment to Northeast Fishery Sector VII operations plan," in the Federal Register. When the rule is published, the supporting documentation, including the approved operations plans, will also be available. NOAA Fisheries will accept comments for 30 days and reserves the right to change the rule based on comments and/or new information.

The Standard-Times in New Bedford, Massachusetts has reported that, “Nearly eight months to the day after NOAA closed groundfishing for Carlos Rafael vessels, the agency lifted the ban on Thursday that had put at least 80 fishermen out of work.” 

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren issued the following statement: "This plan allows our fishing families and business to get back to work. One man committed criminal actions and he's justifiably in jail, but a lot of innocent people and businesses paid a price for his fraud. Finally, the industry can now move forward and I will continue to do everything to help fishermen and their way of life that embodies the Massachusetts spirit."

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey issued the following statement: "NOAA's actions mean that our impacted New Bedford fishermen will be able to get back in the water. I am glad that fishing sectors IX and VII finally have a path forward to restore the important balance between sustainable fishing and fishermen's livelihoods. I will continue to monitor this situation to ensure continued progress and a fair resolution so we can ensure that our Massachusetts fishermen and fishing-related businesses thrive." 

“It’s finally happening,” U.S. Rep. Bill Keating said. “We’re happy. It’s something that we’ve been doing everything in our power to encourage and to affect a swift resolution.”

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell issued the following statement: “NOAA’s long-awaited decision to approve sector operation plans and allow limited groundfish operations to resume is an important first step and welcome relief to many New Bedford fishing families and waterfront businesses impacted by the closures of Sectors 7 and 9. I applaud all those industry leaders and elected officials who worked with the City and the Port Authority to constructively engage NOAA and highlight the economic consequences of the closure on innocent parties. Our focus now will be to advocate for the timely conclusion of the remaining civil enforcement case against Carlos Rafael and the transfer of his vessels and permits to third parties in the Port of New Bedford. Only then can we move past lease-only arrangements and return to normal groundfishing operations and management.” 

Read more coverage at the New Bedford Standard-Times

Read the full interim rule here

Source: Saving Seafood

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