May 1, 2013
By Richard Gaines
The Northeast groundfishing industry faced the music Tuesday — and it was a dirge.
NOAA Regional Administrator John Bullard informed members of Congress Tuesday that he was filing in the Federal Register catch limits and the overall fishing regime for the new fishing year starting today and carrying through 2015. And the briefing confirmed devastating cuts in the stocks on which the fleet of about 450 boats have depended.
Boats primarily from Gloucester, New Hampshire and Maine that fished for Gulf of Maine cod found their allocations cut by 78 percent, and many fishermen — including Joe Orlando, one of Gloucester’s best known and most vocal captains — said their businesses were rendered non-viable.
“Want to buy a boat?” said Orlando, who fishes from the 70-foot vessel Padre Pio. “I put it up for sale. I have no choice.”
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We are a far cry from here when 1oo foot plus commercial fishing boats were tied up 4-5 abreast all around the harbor -
I’ll never forget graduation day from Bentley College when I was at a crossroad in my life. We still hadn’t left campus right after the graduation ceremony and I was wrestling with the decision between staying in school and becoming an economics professor or going to work at the dock. My dad said to me “Joe, there’s always gonna be fish and they’re always gonna need a place to unload them.” That was 1989.
Never could we have imagined how far and how fast it would all fall apart.
Our once might port is not even a tiny flicker of what it once was.