Groundfishermen Face Economic Disaster

by Laurie Schreiber

Dan Georgianna silhouetted before fisheries data screen at January 25. A scientific report has determined that catch shares has caused unforeseen major shifts in the distribution of quota. “There’s this disconnect between saying, ‘Revenues are higher, everything’s fine,’ and people in the business and on the docks saying, ‘No, not everything is fine.’ ” —Dan Georgianna, UMass economist ©Photo by Sam Murfitt

A request for relief in a time of “economic disaster” in the groundfish fishery was denied in January by the federal government’s chief fisheries regulator, Gary Locke. As a result, Massachusetts officials convened a meeting to figure out how to proceed in a way that might help groundfishermen and their communities survive the transition to the year-old sector-based catch share management system.

The latest meeting of New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang’s Ocean and Fisheries Council convened in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on January 25. The meeting was timed to coincide with the January 23-25 meeting of the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) in order to draw NEFMC members and staffers into the Ocean and Fisheries Council’s deliberations.

The meeting followed the latest exchange between Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and United States Commerce Secretary Locke. In a letter dated November 5, 2010, Patrick asked Locke to raise catch limits for groundfish species and to provide $21 million in direct economic relief “for the impact caused by the transition to catch shares.”

Patrick said a new report provides scientific justification that catch limits can be raised by at least 30 percent for most species, and more for some species, while still remaining within conservation bounds. “Based on this analysis, the report identifies approximately $19 million of foregone economic opportunities in Massachusetts due to catch limits that were set at the lowest end of allowable ranges,” Patrick wrote.


2011 Canadian/
U.S. Lobstermen's Town Meeting

hosted by the


March 25, 2011

9:00 - 4:00



March 26, 2011

9:00 - 11:30


Delta Brunswick

Saint John,

New Brunswick

Continue the day’s conversation at a Seafood Reception - Friday Evening, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.


Click here to print a registration form!