National Fisherman


HARTFORD — Jeff Wilcox is shutting his 135-year-old family marine supply business in Stonington, Conn., a casualty in the battle over federal fishing limits.
 
As fishermen are sidelined, taking their boats out of service for lack of work, New England’s marine industry that repairs, stores, and cleans boats is next in line to feel the hit. Wilcox, owner of Wilcox Marine Supply, blames the federal government and the fishing limits it’s imposed. In Stonington, he said, the number of draggers — fishermen who drag nets behind their boats —has dropped since the mid-1990s from 50 to two. His business, which employed 13 people in the early 1990s, has dwindled to just himself.
 
‘‘It’s put almost all the fisheries out of business and now it’s trickled down to me,’’ he said.
 
Many southern New England fishing communities face a similar problem. Richard Fuka, president of the Rhode Island Fishermen’s Alliance, warns that if the fleet continues to be diminished, ‘‘Rhode Islanders could see a local heritage industry slip away and become a museum piece.’’
 
John Bullard, the Northeast’s top regulator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has said sharp cuts in fishing catches are painful but necessary to help fish stocks rebound.
 
The most significant cut is a 78 percent year-to-year reduction in the catch of Gulf of Maine cod. Fishermen also are forced to take in fewer key flounder and haddock species. Fishery scientists say some species are recovering far too slowly, requiring cuts in catch to meet mandates to end overfishing and rebuild fish stocks.
 
Fishermen have criticized science that they say has underestimated the health of fish stocks. Because of the rules, which are the subject of a lawsuit filed last year by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, fishermen say they can’t catch enough fish to stay in business.
 
Read the full story at the Boston Globe>>

Inside the Industry

NOAA recently published a proposed rule that would implement a traceability plan to help combat IUU fishing. The program would seek to trace the origins of imported seafood by setting up reporting and filing procedures for products entering the U.S.

The traceability program would collect data on harvest, landing, and chain of custody of fish and fish products that have been identified as particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing and fraud.

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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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