National Fisherman


NEW BEDFORD — The trials and tribulations of contemporary commercial fishermen are well known in seaports throughout New England, but while their futures appear bleak in the eyes of some, there are others who dispute that notion.

Competition from foreign fleets, perceived depletion of fish stocks, environmental concerns and government regulations head the list of major issues confronted by fishermen everywhere in the world today and perhaps dampen the enthusiasm for fishing as a career.

Many fear the rich tradition of "inter-generational fishing" — the once-common trend of fishermen spawning fishermen from their offspring — is nearing the point of extinction.

That is the sentiment of Tom Williams of Point Judith, R.I., who has been fishing commercially since 1967. Williams is today a self-described "shore captain" who owns two commercial fishing craft — operated by his two college-educated sons — out of Point Judith and Stonington, Conn.

"I can't remember conditions for fishermen being this bad," Williams said. "Until attitudes about the fishing industry change, I think we're doomed to failure. I don't see how this industry can survive."

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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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