Fishing vessels tied up in New Bedford but not allowed to unload part of their catch this week suggest one more weakness in our fishing regulations that is ripe for remedy.
State environmental regulations allow a boat carrying fish to an out-of-state port to land fish in Massachusetts when injured crew or severe mechanical issues force the decision. Foul weather, apparently, is not part of the equation.
Unfortunately for seven vessels — three home-ported here and four from North Carolina — foul weather this week chased them to New Bedford, though they were all fishing on North Carolina permits. The state regulators have allowed the boats to land the portion of the catch classified as “incidental,” but the main target, fluke, as of Thursday afternoon, were still aboard at least two of the vessels because the fluke season doesn’t open in the local fishery until February.
The decision to allow the landing of the incidental catch is somewhat encouraging, as it suggests the Environmental Police tackling this interstate fish story can be flexible.
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