For a gillnet fisherman, these are trying times — with worse yet to come.
Captain Don Smith, a 57-year-old transplanted Mainer whose family roots are in Nova Scotia and has fished commercially from Gloucester for more than 30 years, doesn't need to be prodded to speak to that.
Working for his friend and first cousin Richard Burgess, the owner of a fleet that has been pared from five boats to two, Smith leads a crew of three including himself on the 44-foot, fiberglass gillnetter Ryan Zachary, a nondescript former lobster boat without bunks or a bathroom.
"The ecosystem has changed a lot," Smith said Tuesday. "It's been two years since we saw a lot of cod on Stellwagen."
Smith is referring to the shallow sandy bottomed bank that begins just 12 or so nautical miles south of Gloucester; the port's fortuitous geology and geography have provided day boats — small trawlers and gillnetters — a convenient and invaluable opportunity to keep working, as limits on effort and landings have become more restrictive over the past generation.
Making life more difficult for the small boats are the big boats; these "trip" boats that traditionally worked offshore on the more distant Georges Bank. But the catch share trading system imposed by federal regulators in 2010 has liberated them to acquire quota from non-participants or day boats, and — no longer limited by daily catch limits —they have been induced to chase the pulses of cod onto Stellwagen, where they flaunt their scale and have their way.
Read the full story at the Gloucester Daily Times>>
National Fisherman Live for March 11, 2014
Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today the appointment of John M.R. Bull as Commissioner of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. John Bull has been with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission since June 2007 and has been serving as Acting Commissioner since January 2014.
PORTSMOUTH, NH - The New Hampshire Fish and Lobster Festival, known locally as Fishtival, invites the community to Portsmouth's Prescott Park each September to honor, celebrate and rediscover the proud tradition of small-scale, local commercial groundfishing in New Hampshire and its valuable contribution to our local food system, local economy and local culture. Now, the mission continues with the announcement of small grants available from the proceeds of the 2013 event.