Rep. Keating forms fishing advisory panel
By DON CUDDY
In an effort to improve communication between Congress, the fishing industry and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which manages federal fisheries, Rep. William Keating has put together a fishing advisory panel that he says will seek to promote greater transparency and cooperation among those involved.
"It became clear to me after the hearings in Boston with NOAA about a year ago that it was a three-legged stool and there were no strong lines of communication," he said. "It doesn't have to be like that."
Keating is currently running against Bristol County District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter for the Democratic nomination in the new 9th Congressional District.
The advisory group is an informal one, according to Dr. Brian Rothschild of UMass Dartmouth's School for Marine Science and Technology. "But we hope it's the beginning of a new way of doing things," he said.
The panel met for the first time in Plymouth this week and fishermen from along the Massachusetts coast met with representatives from the state and congressional delegations and fishery scientists to share ideas and information.
"It's always helpful to meet outside of the fishery council process and see where people can agree," said Tom Dempsey, policy director for the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association, who also serves on the New England Fishery Management Council.
The meeting provided an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss the difficulties facing the fishing industry, according to Keating.
Cooperative research for stock assessment, more industry involvement in surveys and more frequent assessments were among the topics of greatest concern. The group will meet periodically as needs arise, he said.
"I see this as a task force to set priorities and come up with some common-sense plans," Keating said.