In the Aug. 17 news story "Off the Cape, the Cod Continue to Dwindle," Susan Buchanan, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service, said that under federal law regulators have to allow overfishing at times to minimize a rebuilding plan's impact on local commercial fishermen.

This statement has no basis in law. While the economic hardships of fishermen can and should be considered, fishery managers are not required to allow overfishing to minimize economic effects. Moreover, overfishing of New England cod for more than two decades is the root cause of the dire economic condition of these fishermen.

If fishery managers had followed the law and ended overfishing 10 years ago, these stocks would be on the road to recovery instead of collapse. If cod populations collapse, cod fishermen will be out of work permanently.

The Fisheries Service needs to stand up to political pressure and make decisions that are in the best interest of the fish and the fishermen who depend on them.

LEE CROCKETT

Executive Director

Marine Fish Conservation Network

Washington

The Aug. 13 editorial "No Fish Story" brought attention to the latest in a long line of reputable studies and commissions that have warned us about the desperate state of the oceans. While the administration has made some noise about addressing this crisis, no effective action has been taken.

In Congress, I've worked with my colleagues to introduce a bill that would enact critical recommendations from the president's own U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. Our bill, known as Oceans-21, would convert our national ocean-management efforts from a hodgepodge of mismatched laws into a coordinated policy focused on protecting, maintaining and restoring the health of our marine ecosystems.

But without a public outcry, Congress is unlikely to move on this bill. Anyone who worries about getting sick from swimming at the beach, who wants seafood to be safe enough for pregnant mothers to eat, or who wants oceans productive and healthy for generations to come should speak out. The United States could be a leader in reversing the damage that humans have inflicted on the oceans.

SAM FARR

U.S. Representative (D-Calif.)

Washington