For months commercial fishermen have been complaining about steep reductions in what the federal government will allow them to catch in cod, haddock, and other groundfish in the Gulf of Maine.
Wednesday, charter boat operators became the newest group of fishermen complaining that federal policies are threatening to put them out of business.
The New England Fishery Management Council is looking at a plan to take 55 square miles of Stellwagen Bank, a section due east of Scituate and due north of Provincetown, where commercial fishing is already banned and put it off limits to recreational fishermen and charter boats. This would be to reserve the section for research, as essentially an un-fished baseline area where scientists could determine the extent to which policies meant to restore groundfish stocks are, or aren’t, succeeding.
"Closure of this area will basically be the straw that breaks the camel's back," said Mike Pierdinock, captain of the charter fishing boat "Perseverance" out of Green Harbor in Marshfield. "It’s prime fishing grounds for, specifically, the South Shore fleet as well as Cape Cod and to some extent the North Shore."
Charlie Wade, a captain and president of the 130-member Stellwagen Bank Charter Boat Association, said if some part of the area needs to be put off-limits for fishing for research purposes, make it someplace else that won’t be so economically damaging to fishing boat operators.
For boats working out of "Marshfield, Green Harbor, Scituate, Plymouth, is a direct shot for us. We'd have to go past these areas, farther east, which is a real safety concern for us in the spring. The weather can be very unpredictable," Wade said. For South Shore boats, instead of being able to sail out 18 to 22 miles to reach areas where charter customers can fish for Bluefin tuna, shark, striped bass, as well as cod and haddock and other groundfish, they would have to travel more like 30 miles one-away.