Delay O’ Fish
In welcome news for commercial fishing operations in New England, a federal judge has ordered an eight-month delay in implementing drastic cutbacks in fishing levels while scientists review federal estimates of the region’s fish population. In September, government scientists acknowledged that the accuracy of fish-count studies on which the original cutbacks were based might have been compromised by an improperly rigged net on a research boat. Federal regulators, environmentalists, and fishers immediately asked for time to verify the fish count — a petition that was granted yesterday by Judge Gladys Kessler, who also ordered the original cutbacks. Those cutbacks would have had a significant economic impact on the fishing industry, closing more fishing grounds in the Gulf of Maine and cutting every vessel’s already-limited fishing days by 50 percent or more. Some fishers who had been hoping for a two-year delay — sufficient time to redo the entire fish count from scratch — were disappointed with Kessler’s ruling, but environmentalists, who are anxious to move forward with restoring overfished populations, generally felt the delay was fair.