WBUR

Fishermen Say ‘Catch Share’ Could Impale Industry

GLOUCESTER, Mass. — At midnight Friday, with the start of the new fishing season, fishermen in Massachusetts will face strict new federal regulations on the number of haddock and other fish they’ll be allowed to reel in.

The program, called “catch share,” or sector fishing, is the government’s effort to fundamentally change the commercial fishing industry in the United States — which is made up largely of independent fishermen.

Under the new regulations, fishermen are encouraged to enter into co-ops, or sectors. Each one is allotted a quota of fish they can catch. Once caught, the fishermen must stop fishing for the season.

Richard Burgess has been a commercial fisherman in Gloucester since the 1970s. In those years, he has watched the fleet here dwindle away. He has managed to survive, but under these new rules, Burgess thinks he may be done for.

“It’s gonna take one boat to make one mistake to put 41 vessels out of business for the year,” he says.

We visited Burgess on Thursday as he prepared his four boats for the new season. We asked how life will change once the new regulations take effect this weekend.

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  • Mike

    I would like to hear the other side of this story. I choose to eat only locally sustainably raised meats because I think it’s the more socially/ethically/environmentally responsible thing to do. When it comes to seafood, I err on the side of vegetables because I don’t know what the social/ethical/environmental implications of supporting commercial fishing are. My inclination is to lean to the side that favors nature and the environment, as opposed to the side that favors the capitalist who makes a buck off of depleting our natural resources.

  • Bob Yeats

    Fishing communities should have the biggest seat at the table regulating fisheries. Sustainable fishing is possible by limiting the technology and the catch size. After years of mismanagement-the government now comes in with regulations that will only benefit the large corporate mega-fleets.

  • TRACEY ANN DOLAN DWYER

    FISHING COMMUNITIES ARE LOOSING EVERYTHING THEY WORKED FOR, THEY TRY TO WORK FOR A LIVING AND SHOCKINGLY THEY ARE GETTING KICKED IN THE BUT THE GOVERNMENT MM IS MAKING RULES THAT YOU CANT LIVE BY CANT LIVE ON IT IS SO HARD TO TRY TO LIVE ON ALL THE RULES THAT ARE MADE ALL FISHERMAN CAN NOT LIVE ON , WHAT THEY MAKE ITS SO SAD CAN WE TRY TO MAKE IT BETTER …. IT WOULD BE NICE PLEASE TO THE GOVERNMENT

  • Bob McGlinchey

    I think the National Marine Fisheries Service should have a thorough audit and evaluated for it’s policies (including Sector Management) and procedures that not only effect the livelihood of the small scale commercial fisherman but the health of people who want to eat reasonably priced fish. Therefore, this is a problem that effects everyone. I suggest that a college such as MIT Sloan School of Business, Harvard Business School or Babson College, to name a few, get involved. It certainly be a welcomed challenge for any graduate student to work with the NFMS and the wide community of fishermen.

    I remember seeing footage shot by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that would make anyones jaw drop. The factory ship was vacuuming the fish off the sea bottom with a giant vacuum hose – not one feet, or two feet but eight to ten feet wide taking up every kind of fish in it’s path. I don’t know whether this practice is still taking place (the footage is about 15 years old) but at the time this was a practice only done by the huge factory ships.

    I tried to read up on Sector Management a few months ago. For starters a sector is defined by the NFMS as a group of fisherman and not area of ocean or a branch of fisheries as defined in Webster’s. Confusing from the start, and in the end, a fiasco for fishermen to try to stay in business..

    Richard Burgess has had fundraisers for UNH to evaluated the “Tiny Tuna” population. A very positive effort, (Tiny Tiuna link http://rockonproducts.com/?d=home&c=tournament&p=split)) But whether it’s money from a fundraiser, an endowment, a grant, or what ever, let see what the academia can provide for the picture of NFMS vs. the commercial fisherman.

  • http://www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=48250 Tom Lalley

    I’m disappointed that WBUR would run such a one-sided story. I’m also disappointed that WBUR took down a comment I posted Friday that criticized their slanted coverage of this story.

    Catch share fishery managment has a long record of success. There’s no doubt that New England’s fisheries are facing hard times. In particular, new legally-mandated cuts to catch limits kick in this year that are totally unrelated to catch shares. But catch shares promise return prosperity and stability to the region’s fisheries. That’s in stark contrast to the current system that can only deliver a continuing downward spiral.

  • reneeca

    Thank yourselves for voting for Barney Frank the blathering idiot once again!

  • Anonymous

    Government Run economy is a disaster!  Everytime you vote these idiots in who know nothing about fishing, you are inviting more poverty!

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