For years, local lobstermen have watched from the periphery as the groundfish industry and federal regulators have waged their mighty battles over stock assessments, closed areas, slashed quotas and regulatory issues, including the presence of observers on the groundfish boats.

For some Gloucester lobstermen, such as Mark Ring and Arthur “Sooky” Sawyer, the visage often has prompted an ominous thought: “We’re next,” Ring said. “That’s how it feels.”

This summer has done nothing to diminish that concern, as more and more local lobstermen — as well as others throughout the state — are reporting increased dockside and other approaches by NOAA observers looking to ride along with them.

“Regardless of whether they hold a state or a federal permit, guys are reporting that they’re being approached in almost a harassing way,” said Beth Casoni, executive director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association. “They’re being told, ‘I’m going out fishing with you tomorrow’.”

Read the full story at the Gloucester Daily Times >>

Read more about federal observers >>

Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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