Northeast fishermen fear looming monitor fees

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. —New England fishermen say that they have already been gutted by limits set by the National Marine Fisheries Service over how much of certain species of groundfish remain off our shores. Now, a looming cost shift is threatening the industry entirely.

Back in 2000, there were about 100 groundfishermen in New Hampshire, using small commercial boats catching the cod, haddock and flounder that we equate with New England seafood.

In 2016, most have switched over to lobster and scallops. Many of them were forced out by limits and quotas.

David Goethel is one of only nine groundfishermen left in the state. But he’s worried something else could wipe out groundfishing completely.

“I lost 95 percent of my cod quota in the last four years and I’m fishing for things that are less value and then I’m going to have to pay for these monitors on top of that. It simply does not add up,” said Goethel.

As of next Tuesday, the National Marine Fisheries Service is making fishermen pick up the $600 tab for the at-sea monitors the federal government requires on one out of every five trips.

“The minute I untie lines that day, I’ve lost money. I’m not breaking even. I’m losing money,” said Goethel.

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About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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