Gloucester's fishing schooners used about 40,000 tons of ice a year in 1876, and when father and son Dick and Scott Memhard acquired Cape Pond Ice Co. more than a century later in 1983, the boats were still using about the same amount.
But now, with the industry in free fall, the company's fish ice sales have fallen by 90 percent, to 4,000 tons a year. And with far worse times around the corner assured by federal regulators, the Memhards have put the business up for sale.
Scott Memhard cited the decision by NOAA against allowing the industry a second year of relief via interim catch levels as forcing his hand. The first year of interim limits held the reduction in Gulf of Maine cod to only 22 percent but without the same for the 2013 fishing year beginning May 1, landings will be compressed by 77 percent. And with $1 million in debt coming due, Memhard said he has little choice.
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