Blaney is skeptical of the government’s motives behind the drastic cuts to fishing quotas.
“People in (quota) enforcement have told me that they’ll be glad when all the small fishing boats are gone because when they are, they’ll have fewer boats to watch over,” Blaney said.”
On Wednesday, Vito Giacalone, policy director for the Northeast Seafood Coalition, said “the game is over,” adding it was “tough to support a motion that says the best we’ve got is to collapse the fishery on the heels of a disaster.”
But N.H. Councilor David Goethel of Hampton received no support on Wednesday for his motion to do just that — shut down the entire directed groundfishery.
Goethel argued that it made more sense to shut it down and dramatize the hardship in hopes NOAA and Congress recognize the crisis with disaster relief and the need to rethink the science and management of the fishery. He said a dramatic act that spared no one was preferable to “throwing 90 percent of the fishermen under the bus.”
The acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Rebecca Blank, waited 11 months until last September to approve a disaster declaration for Massachusetts and the other groundfishing states, but offered no financial aid, and Congress deleted $150 million in fishery disaster funding from the $60 billion Hurricane Sandy disaster package before sending it to the White House earlier this week.
Yesterday, in light of the council’s actions, U.S. Rep. John Tierney, D-Salem, said he’ll introduce legislation providing relief in the short term, adding that’s not the end of the road. The nation needs to find “a common-sense solution to ensure the survival of this historic industry,” he said.
Calling the council’s actions “catastrophic” to fishermen across New England, Tierney added that even as the Department of Commerce acknowledged the economic disaster through its declaration in September, “the department seems unable or unwilling to provide any relief or common-sense solutions.”
“If Congress does not take action immediately, families and communities in Massachusetts and throughout New England are going to hit rock bottom,” Tierney said. “This is not rhetoric or hyperbole, this is real life.”
Gloucester Times staff writer Richard Gaines contributed to this story.