Guest Column – Disaster aid distribution raises tough questions

by David Pierce

Disaster aid is the talk of the waterfront and within the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), too.  And why wouldn’t it be?  Many groundfish fishermen have been hit hard by very low groundfish catch limits, individual allocations small enough to fill a teacup, and just a plain lack of fish.

Lack of fish continues to be especially troubling because it relates to assessments and their accuracy with many fishermen claiming the lack is due to changed availability, not abundance.  Gulf of Maine cod, for example, appears to have adopted an Arnold Schwarzenegger attitude of “I’ll be back.”  I wonder when.

pierce-gc-shReluctantly and with great heartache, a lot of fishermen are looking for a way out or having to accept becoming “armchair” fishermen, leasing out their individual allocations to active fishermen desperately seeking more fish at reasonable prices.

Who would have believed that New England’s hunters of the sea would be forced to hunt the “web” like frustrated spiders waiting for a lucky catch or break.

The current need to acquire quota, sometimes “hat in hand,” before going to sea is a far cry from the days when independent fishermen relied solely on their skill to find fish and pay expenses.  Now, expenses mount before fishermen even leave the dock.  So does resentment since future catches must…

CFN_5_14coverRead the rest and much, much more in the May issue of Commercial Fisheries News.

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