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: 9/9/14
In this episode:
Seafood Watch upgrades status of 21 fish species
Calif. bill attacking seafood mislabeling approved
Ballot item would protect Bristol Bay salmon
NOAA closes cod, yellowtail fishing areas
Pacific panel halves young bluefin harvest
National Fisherman Live: 8/26/14
In this episode, National Fisherman Publisher Jerry Fraser talks about his early days dragging for redfish on the Vandal.
More than a dozen higher education institutions and federal and local fishery management agencies and organizations in American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Hawaii have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at building the capacity of the U.S. Pacific Island territories to manage their fisheries and fishery-related resources.