It’s hard to image an Ocean State without a commercial fishing industry, but one local business owner warns it could happen.
Increasingly restrictive federal regulations have cut the commercial fishing fleet in half over the last four years and are imperiling its future, according to Richard Fuka, the president of the Rhode Island Fishermen’s Alliance.
“We’re at a dangerous low level,” Fuka said. If the fleet is diminished any further, Rhode Islanders could see a local heritage industry “slip away” and become “a museum piece,” Fuka says. Further tightening federal regulations he says could be just thing that pushes the industry over the edge, according to Fuka. (See below slides for data on the decline.)
Fuka said things took a decided turn for the worse after President Obama took office and his new appointee for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agenda has pursued a more aggressive regulatory agenda. But he says the industry was already chafing under regulations passed in the later years of the Bush administration.