CHATHAM — When a fisherman is getting just pennies to the pound for fish, paying an additional $710 for someone to ride along and count each one can really cut into the bottom line.

“We couldn’t afford the $700,” said Chatham fisherman Jan Margeson. “It would have put you into a negative day.”

Margeson and other Cape Cod fishermen who pursue relatively low value species like skate and dogfish argue they use nets with such a large mesh that almost all other species simply swim right through and escape.

The observers they are occasionally required to carry are intended to double check the amounts of groundfish, like cod, haddock and flounder they are catching along with dogfish and skates. But Cape fishermen say they don’t catch any of the groundfish and feel the observers, known as “At-Sea Monitors,” are unnecessary and expensive.

Newly proposed regulations released for public comment this week confirm what Cape fishermen have been saying for years, by granting them an exemption to the requirement to carry the monitors on nearly all their fishing trips for skate and dogfish, which became the dominant species landed in Cape ports after the decline of groundfish, especially cod, in recent years.


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