Tags: Enviros | Put | Fishermen | out | Business

Enviros Put Fishermen out of Business

Wednesday, 01 May 2002 12:00 AM

Under the most severe restrictions ever imposed, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler on Friday closed prime fishing grounds off New England and severely restricted the number of days fishermen may go to sea.

Many fishermen were already shut out of other areas because of previous ocean closures. Some said they were going to have to find another way of making a living because of the restrictions.

"Usually May is a month full of hope, where you're hauling out your boat, making the necessary repairs, investing in your upcoming season," Paul Parker of Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association in Chatham, Mass., told United Press International. "And this May it's seems that it's pretty hopeless.

"It just seems like that there's not really much of a future for us."

While struggling with the need to protect the stocks of cod, haddock and other groundfish, species that feed near the sea bed, Parker said: "We're also trying to figure how we can make a place for the fisherman in the ocean. We want there to be a balance."

"Today could be the official death of the Gulf of Maine family-owned inshore fishing fleet," Ellen Goethel, a fisherman's wife from Hampton, N.H., wrote to the New Bedford, Mass., Standard Times. "This is the day that the Honorable Judge Kessler's new rules for fishing in the Gulf of Maine take effect."

The order was in response to a lawsuit filed by environmentalists against the National Marine Fisheries Service for not fully preventing overfishing.

The rules prevent boats from leaving docks until July, cutting off the income for boat owners and their crews.

Some of the fishermen say they will lose more than half of their annual income.

The Portland Fish Exchange in Maine and the Whaling City Seafood Display Auction in New Bedford, where many fishermen sell their catch, predict severe revenue losses.

Many fishermen expected Kessler to allow them to fish as many days as they had in the best of their last five years, minus 20 percent. Instead, she imposed a harsher formula that allows fishermen an allocation equal to the average number of days spent catching groundfish the past five years, minus 20 percent.

For most boats, that's a reduction of at least 18 days, from 88 fishing days this year to a maximum of 70 next. But because the 20 percent cut is based on their average year, many fishermen will lose many more than 18 days if they had poor years.

"That is really a killer," Tricia Balzano told the Portland Press Herald. She fears her boat will lose significantly more than 20 of its 107 fishing days.

More than 300 boat owners who didn't fish for cod or haddock for a five-year period will lose their right to fish for them altogether.

Northeast Seafood Coalition in Gloucester, Mass., vowed to appeal.

"The fight isn't over," attorney Ann-Margaret Ferrante, who with attorney Stephen Ouellette represented the coalition, told the Gloucester Times. "This isn't the final page of the final chapter of the final volume."

Kessler had been expected to approve a settlement agreed to by Conservation Law Foundation, the National Marine Fisheries Service and all of the fishing industry groups except Northeast Seafood Coalition.

Fishermen in the coalition rejected the settlement because they said it placed an unfair share of conservation burden on Gloucester's inshore fleet.

"She took the settlement agreement and made it worse," said Ouellette. "We thought maybe we would lose 100 inshore boats with the earlier agreement," he said. "But now we will lose the 250 small, inshore boats from Provincetown to southern Maine."

Kessler called the decision "one of the hardest this court has ever undertaken. The livelihood, indeed the way of life, of many thousands of individuals, families, small businesses and maritime communities will be affected."

She also noted, however, "the future of a precious natural resource - the once-rich, vibrant and healthy, and now severely depleted New England Northeast fishery - is at stake."

Anthony Chatwin, staff scientist for Conservation Law Foundation, said Kessler's approval "marks a new beginning for fisheries management in New England. For the first time, environmentalists, fishermen, and fisheries managers have come together to create healthy fisheries here in New England for the longer term."

He said that although there had been "good signs" that stocks were recovering, "we have a lot of work cut out for us before we can say categorically the New England fisheries are healthy and sustainable."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Under the most severe restrictions ever imposed, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler on Friday closed prime fishing grounds off New England and severely restricted the number of days fishermen may go to sea. Many fishermen were already shut out of other areas because of...
Enviros,Put,Fishermen,out,Business
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2002-00-01
Wednesday, 01 May 2002 12:00 AM
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