HAMPTON - A bill that would help local fishermen comfortably store their equipment at home without concern for complaints by their town and neighbors was recommended for passage last week by the Municipal and County Government Committee.
House Bill 464, the Traditional Commercial and Recreational Fishing Act, prohibits political subdivisions from interfering with commercial and recreational operations of fishing families.
The committee voted 17 to 0 to recommend the bill sponsored by state Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, when it goes before the full House on Wednesday.
Cushing said the bill requires communities to recognize fishing as a “home occupation,” much like the case of an independent plumber who stores his equipment in his home. He said that communities on the Seacoast have gone from viewing the ocean as a means of employment to merely a pretty view, putting fishermen at odds with their neighbors over storage of boats and lobster traps.
The bill, originally named the Fishing Family Protection Act, was inspired by an incident from 1997 that involved a fisherman, Peter Walker, who moved from Portsmouth to avoid dealing with fines from the city and a neighbor complaining about how he stored lobster traps, Cushing said.
Walker received a notice from the city in March 1997 saying he would need to remove his 1,200 lobster traps from his Coolidge Drive property in Elwyn Park by a certain date or face a $100-a-day fine, according to a Portsmouth Herald article.
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