National Fisherman


The Northeast groundfishing industry faced the music Tuesday — and it was a dirge.

NOAA Regional Administrator John Bullard informed members of Congress Tuesday that he was filing in the Federal Register catch limits and the overall fishing regime for the new fishing year starting today and carrying through 2015. And the briefing confirmed devastating cuts in the stocks on which the fleet of about 450 boats have depended.

Boats primarily from Gloucester, New Hampshire and Maine that fished for Gulf of Maine cod found their allocations cut by 78 percent, and many fishermen — including Joe Orlando, one of Gloucester's best known and most vocal captains — said their businesses were rendered non-viable.

"Want to buy a boat?" said Orlando, who fishes from the 70-foot vessel Padre Pio. "I put it up for sale. I have no choice."

Larger off-shore boats, some from Maine and Gloucester but primarily from New Bedford and Pt. Judith, R.I. that fish Georges Bank cod and yellowtail will be allowed to land about one third of their previous allocation.

But after years of incremental reductions and new systems of operation for the fleet, the new cuts are expected to leave much of coastal New England without commercial fishing. Exceptions will be Gloucester and New Bedford, the regional centers from which fishermen will fish on, but in a much more limited fashion.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester described the cuts Tuesday as "the greatest threat we've seen to the survival of groundfishing in New England, and risk the total collapse of a fishery that has endured for hundreds of years."

"Today," he added, "NOAA has responded to a declared disaster by creating a crisis."

Read the full story at the Gloucester Daily Times>>

Inside the Industry

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...
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