Written by Linc Bedrosian
Monday, 03 September 2012
So the latest solution being floated to solve the woes of the New England groundfish fishery appears to be an approximately $100 million vessel/permit buyout program. Haven’t we seen this movie before?
Yes, we have, and one need look no further than the NF archives for confirmation. In 1995, lagging groundfish populations spawned a $2 million pilot program to buy out 13 New England groundfish boats with hopes of reducing fleet capacity by 2.6 percent.
Vessels bought through the program were to be scrapped to ensure that fleet capacity would truly be reduced. The only problem was that boat owners who scrapped their vessels turned around and bought new ones.
By 1997, the pilot program had been followed by a more ambitious $23 million buyout program that initially aimed to remove 100 boats, although that total was later revised to 75 to 80 boats. Between the two programs, it was estimated that fishing capacity would be reduced by up to 23.6 percent.
And yet some 15 years later, even with the recognition that climate change and ecosystem shifts are taking more of a toll on groundfish than fishermen are, officials are still slashing away at fishing capacity. A vessel/permit buyout plan may further reduce fishing capacity, but it’ll also eliminate jobs, at sea and in New England communities where fishing remains a vital economic force.
This election year, plenty will be said about the need to stimulate our domestic economy and create jobs. If only such talk would translate into plans to, for example, spend $100 million to improve stock assessments through collaborative efforts that would partner fishermen with scientists.
What New England’s small-boat fishermen and fishing communities need is help to make it through these tough times rather than programs that seem destined to eliminate them.
The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:
The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.Read more...
Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.
Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.Read more...