Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Thursday, 12 August 2010
JHathaway2 Fishing buyouts have been a management strategy ever since the government realized the folly of its ways in encouraging any and all citizens to join the fishing fleets by subsidizing boatbuilding just when technology was tilting the playing field in favor of men in boats.
Now in the ailing Northeast, in the middle of the first season of groundfish catch shares, the U.S. Senate is proposing an aid package for fishermen and ports, including buyouts.
I have no problem with buyouts in general. What I don't want to see is failed management strategies crippling fishermen who then can't pay the bills and succumb to a buyout.
All too often when management fails, the managers go on and the fishermen go under.
The Northeast groundfish fleet is a fraction of what it once was. And you know what? That's just fine. The folks who are in it really want to be there, or they are fishermen because that's what the people in their family have done since they were citizens of a colony rather than a commonwealth.
The fact that the federal government's first attempt at revamping the management system for this fleet is causing so many of them to struggle and some to fail makes me think we ought to rethink the management, not the number of boats.
Let them out if they want out. But if they want to stay in the game, give them a chance to make a living at it.
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