NEFMC Commits to Scoping a Scallop Leasing Option in 2022
At its final meeting of 2021, the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) unanimously voted to make scoping of a leasing option in the limited access (LA) scallop fishery a priority for 2022. On December 9, the NEFMC approved the measure to conduct scoping, based on strong recommendations from the Scallop Advisory Panel and Scallop Committee.
The exact language of the priority charges the NEFMC staff to: “Conduct scoping for a LA DAS and AA trip leasing program to (1) assess whether there is a need for a leasing program and (2) what a leasing program should consider.”
The decision reflects the strong input received from those who work in the fishery and comes after three years of discussion and consideration at the Scallop Advisory Panel, Scallop Committee, and Council levels. Nearly 70 percent of the LA scallop vessel fleet signed public letters calling for action on a leasing option. Over the course of the year, the economic, safety, and environmental benefits of leasing also became increasingly clear to those who work in and manage the fishery.
The Scallopers Campaign is fully committed to working within the Council process to support the scoping priority next year. Key objectives will be to ensure a broad geographic representation in all conversations on leasing; a focus on how to best improve flexibility, safety and the fishery’s carbon footprint in a potential leasing amendment; and ensuring vital protections for other fisheries, employment, and entrant opportunities to the fishery.