National Fisherman


With a limberness that defies his 69 years, Frank Mirarchi heaves himself over the edge of a concrete wharf and steps out onto a slack, downward sloping dock line bouncing 20 feet above the lapping waters near Scituate, Mass. He shimmies laterally along the pylons, steadying himself with a grip on some steel rigging, until he reaches the roof of the pilot house on his boat, a groundfish trawler called the Barbara L. Peters, after his mother-in-law.

He descends to the motor room and rubs a hand along a clean stretch of engine piping. "I'll be done painting in here soon," says Mirarchi, who has been harvesting cod, flounder and other quarry from the Gulf of Maine and, further out, from the lucrative shallows of Georges Bank for the better part of five decades. "Then I'll move outside."

Painting is about all the action Mirarchi's boat has seen lately. Facing massive cuts in government-proscribed limits to the groundfish species at the very heart of New England's commercial fishing economy, the Barbara L. Peters -- like the 30 or so other nominally active boats remaining in this New England sector, and dozens more boats up and down the Northeast coast -- has been locked hard against its pier, rising and falling with the tides but going nowhere.

"We're gonna lose a bunch of boats," Mirarchi says, referring to the high odds that some fishermen, perhaps even himself, will be forced to abandon the livelihood that has sustained them for decades. Mirarchi barely broke even last year, and with official catch allocations for some crucial species down by nearly 80 percent for the season that opened May 1, he expects that he will be forced to put the Barbara L. Peters -- only eight years old -- up for sale. "What else am I going to do? My entire life's résumé is running boats, and they aren't hiring these days.

"It's a beautiful boat," Mirarchi adds. "It just doesn't have any fish to catch."

Read the full story at Huffington Post>>

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.

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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.

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