Fishery Management: "Lucky 13" Draws Ire from All Sides

November 2004

Several groups filed federal lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Commerce over the most recent tweaking of the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. The latest version of the plan, Amendment 13, contains regulations that went into effect on May 1. At around 1,700 pages, Amendment 13 is a detailed, far-reaching plan that purports to end overfishing of groundfish, rebuild stocks and minimize wasteful bycatch through an assortment of permit and gear categories and restrictions, geographic and temporal restrictions on both commercial and recreational fishermen, and outright closures of some areas. Suits filed by three environmental groups - Oceana, Inc., the Conservation Law Foundation and the Natural Resources Defense Council - claim that Amendment 13 fails to meet the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (SFA) in that it does not sufficiently curtail fishing effort, bycatch and habitat destruction. Suits filed by two commercial fishing groups, the Northeast Seafood Coalition, Inc. and the Trawlers Survival Fund, also claim failure under both MSA and SFA for social impacts upon the commercial fishing communities. For more information, visit