Thursday January 31, 2013 | 03:25 PM
Posted by Mike Tetreault

“It’s midnight and getting darker.”  

I heard a commercial fisherman and former New England Fisheries Management Council member offer these words during his testimony yesterday, and they remained in my mind as a perfect summation of the mood in New England’s fishing communities.

The Council was debating whether to reduce the allowable catch of cod, and their decision was a lose-lose proposition.  Vote to reduce the allowable catch to near zero, and impact lives of hundreds of fishermen. Allow catches well beyond those supported by the scientific advice and risk perpetuating the decline of the cod fishery.

In the end, the council, including all four delegates from Maine, made a brave and difficult decision – reduce the allowable catch dramatically.  I was among more than 500 people in the room, and every single one of us knew that that this will be very disruptive to coastal communities. We also knew that it was inevitable.

Now, we all need to turn our time and attention to supporting commercial fishing families and coastal ports as they transition to a new model of fishing in New England.

If opportunities arise from crisis, then now is the time to redesign how fishing happens in New England so that we can restore our fish populations, our fishing economy and our coastal communities.

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Mike Tetreault leads The Nature Conservancy in Maine, where he works with partners in conservation, government and community development to identify solutions which ensure that Maine's natural resources are available for people and for nature.

He holds a degree in environmental studies from Brown and a MS from the field naturalist program at the University of Vermont, and has studied resource management in Kenya, Mexico and throughout New England.

Tetreault started his career teaching wilderness leadership and environmental education, and has worked for The Nature Conservancy since 1998. He lives in Bath with his wife, their daughter and a menagerie of pets.

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