According to court documents, New Hampshire argued the rules could have a disproportionate impact on the state’s fisheries because they employ smaller vessels that tend to fish closer to shore. Further, New Hampshire might not agree on how to argue their case or appropriate remedies, Foster said.
According to Foster, “what’s good for Massachusetts would not necessarily be good for New Hampshire.”
New Hampshire fishermen landed 7.5 million pounds of fish last year worth $5.6 million, according to court documents; of that total, the groundfish at issue in the lawsuit were worth $3.9 million.
Seabrook’s Yankee Fisherman’s Co-operative lands most of the fish in the New Hampshire, the only remaining cooperative in the state. Over recent years, as federal regulations have become more and more severe, the tonnage of fish caught and sold at Yankee has dropped drastically, in some cases by more than 50 percent, causing some local and regional fishermen to sell their permits and get out of the business. The result of the federal regulations has threatened the very existence of the Granite State’s 400-year old fishing industry.
This groundfishing season has been difficult, according to Yankee Fisherman’s Co-op manager Red Perkins. Not only have fishing limits been slashed, but all species usually found in local waters are in short supply.
“In June, we thought at first that it was going to be a decent season, but it wasn’t at all,” Perkins said. “There’s very few fish. It’s amazing. No one knows if it’s the rain or (warmer) ocean temperatures, but it’s not the fishermen.”
Although most of Seabrook’s commercial fishermen use small boats that customarily fish waters close to shore, some are venturing to waters hours away in hopes of finding fish, Perkins said, but even that didn’t work.