Thursday, April 1, 2010

Obama Declares War on Fishermen. 50 percent of the region’s fishermen could be squeezed out of business by the rules.

'Hey man, I ain't no fisherman.'

The federal government finalized the most fundamental changes in New England fishing rules in more than a generation yesterday, over the strenuous objections of many fishermen who say they will be put out of business.

The new rules, which take effect May 1, come after years of effort by the federal government and environmental groups to stop overfishing of the region’s fabled cod, flounder, and other bottom-dwelling species that once were said to be so plentiful that colonists caught them simply by lowering baskets into the sea.

The rules encourage boat owners to organize into groups that will be allocated a share of the annual quota for each species, and already fishermen who account for the vast majority of the catch in New England have voluntarily formed groups, called sectors. The system is designed to give fishermen more financial incentive to be good stewards of the sea and more flexibility in deciding who fishes and when, such as allowing fishermen to avoid bad weather.

The government is also lowering the total amount of many species of fish that can be caught.

Although some fishermen say the idea has merit, most say it is going into effect too quickly and the catch limits are too harsh. The end result, they say, will be fishermen losing jobs across New England.

“The bottom line is there hasn’t been enough analysis on these catch shares,’’ said Richie Canastra, co-owner of the Whaling City and Boston Seafood auctions. He said he fears that 50 percent of the region’s fishermen could be squeezed out of business by the rules.

“We are getting these sectors forced down our throat,’’ he said. READ MORE...

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