Fishermen and fishing stakeholders say the darkness that has descended on the Northeast groundfish fishery over the past three years is only going to grow deeper in 2016, with some fishing stakeholders envisioning the final collapse of the small-boat industry due to slashed quotas for species they believe are abundant.

"With these cuts, we will not have a fishery as we know it anymore," said Vito Giacalone, the manager of Gloucester-based Northeast Fishing Sector 4 and the policy director at the Northeast Seafood Coalition. "The great shame to this is we're going to have this entirely detrimental economic impact while the stocks are in great shape and no one in the government is listening. There is just no leadership."

At the heart of the issue is the expanding difference between what fishermen say they are seeing on the water and the results from NOAA stock assessments used to produce the annual fishing quotas. Call it a watery Great Divide.

"The fish are in great shape and the only real constraint on catch is quota," Giacalone said. "Fishermen are seeing that across the board on a lot of the species."

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