Environment

Rough Waters: Local Fishing Industry

By Phillip Martin   |   Friday, August 27, 2010
0 Comments   0 comments.

More Rough Waters:
Part One: Rough Waters
Phillip Martin explores the history of Federal regulation of fishing.
 
Part Two: Rough Waters
Rachel Gotbaum examines the transition from "Days at Sea" to "Sectors."

Part Three: Rough Waters
Phillip Martin looks at the alarming decline in local fish populations.

Part Four: Rough Waters
Rachel Gotbaum profiles the historic fishing village of Port Clyde Maine--one of only three commercial groundfishing ports left in the state and where a group of fishermen are determined to save their fishery by trying some unorthodox ways of doing business.

Phillip Martin and Rachel Gotbaum on The Emily Rooney Show

Working Waterfront Festival
Celebrating Commercial Fishing, America's Oldest Industry
September 25 & 26, 2010
Port of New Bedford
It’s another summer night on the terrace of Slip 14 here in Nantucket and the working class is literally rubbing shoulders with the super wealthy. Conversations in the background are about yachts, Obama and Lady Gaga.  But fishermen, Ed and Tim Barrett, are talking with friends above the din about the state of fishing.  They’re speaking to the converted. The Barretts dock in Nantucket because the fishermen of Plymouth—from where they used to launch—have disappeared altogether.

Brother fishermen Tim and Ed Barrett. Photo: Phillip Martin
Slip 14 Restaurant Owner Jonas Baker scratches his head trying to recall where he first met the Barrett brothers.  “Eddie and Timmie?  It had to be over a beer somewhere…” he recalls.  He says the Barretts keep his restaurant stocked with fresh fish, but that the same federal restrictions on them are also affecting his business.  “They’re trying to meet a quota and usually their quota is caught by the end of our season,” explains Baker.  “So when they start fishing for fluke, we got fluke straight through, but once that quota shuts down, than the fish have got to come from somewhere and think that’s where the whole dilemma is coming with everything.”

Four hours after Slip 14 closes for the night, the Barretts are starting their day.  Older brother Ed has bought into the sector system that allows him to catch a certain allotment of fish.  Tim has too few catch-share or quota to qualify, so he works for his brother as part of a family venture.  But Ed—who has fished for 30 years— is not hopeful about the future.  “Honestly, it gets me very depressed these days thinking about the future,” he admits.  “And I know a lot of other people, especially from the South Shore feel the same way.  We’ve all lost access in terms of catch share allocation and I’m worried that we’re not going to get that back.”

The cloud-streaked sun has barely made its way over the horizon when they push off from the city owned pier and head out into the open water.  Ed is aboard the Sirius.  Tim commands the Odessa.  Hours later Tim surveys a Sonar screen streaked in blue and red markings, which designate fish in this area.  He Barrett pulls a lever and heavy steel doors on both sides of the boat lift and then disappear beneath the surface dragging a heavy mesh behind the boat.  “Sometimes you catch more fish than you thought you’d catch,” notes Tim.  “The nets are designed to release the smaller undersized fish.  Even the smaller illegal fish tend to get through the nets so we don’t have a lot of by catch.”

Wife and husband Kirsten and Reidar Bendiksen run Reidar’s Manufacturing, a small commercial fishing gear store in New Bedford. The store also serves as a place for fishermen to stop and talk shop while they wait for their order. Photo: Phillip Martin
Reidar Bendiksen of New Bedford fished for 30 years before he and his wife Kirsten opened an off-shore business that’s specializes in quality netting for fishermen—including the Barrett brothers by the way.   But Kirsten Bendiksen says they are seeing a lot fewer customers these days and she blames what she calls over-regulation of the fishing industry.  “If they were allowed to fish then they would be making more money,” she observes.  “They’d be fishing up their boats, they’d be spending more money on the economy, they’d be paying off their bills here and we wouldn’t be carrying bills month after month after month after month for a lot of our customers.  It’s a domino effect."

“It’s useless,” says Kirsten’s son Tor on the amount of wasted netting.  “The government didn’t take into effect the fact that we might have $100,000 dollars we have right now that we have to use up before we can go to the new size.

The Northeast fishing fleet has shrunk from a high of 1200 boats in the 1980’s to slightly more than 800 today.  Of these, about 200 are responsible for about 90 percent of the total catch.  US Senators representing New England and New York have asked President Obama to provide $50 million dollars in direct economic assistance to Northeast fishermen and $100 million in emergency aid for a voluntary groundfish permit buyback plan.  John Sackton, the editor of Seafood News, thinks it’s a good idea, “bbecause that can help a guy stay in business.”  According to Sackton, “if, let’s say, 10 to 12 percent of his revenue is going to come from ground fish, he can’t afford to go out and compete with a big boat to actually buy additional permits.  But he could go to his local permit bank and say I want you to lease me enough catch quota so I can maintain my vessel in this harbor.  I think that has been largely ignored in the design of the New England catch share program.  And I think it’s really time that this be taken a look at.”

Congressman Barney Frank, representing New Bedford and Fairhaven, describes himself as “very much interested” in protecting the environment, “As are the fishermen.”  “These are a people who have more of an interest in keep the supply of fish than anyone else,” Frank points out.  “And we should understand they are the most regulated workers that I know about what they can catch, where they can catch it, and how many days they can fish.  But I think you have had a bias frankly in the regulatory structure that has always erred on the side of too little fish.”

Frank recently rescinded his call for Jane Lubchenco, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to be fired at the request of the Obama Administration.  He says the option is still on the table.   But NOAA administrators and policy makers say they are merely trying to balance the need to preserve fish stocks with the livelihoods of fishing families.  “If it were easy to balance it would be done by now,” says Tom Warren, a policy analyst with NOAA’s Northeast Regional Office in Gloucester.  “You're trying to balance both preserving Mother Nature, which is highly complex and dynamic, and preserving somebody's livelihood.  And the fishing business is also highly complex and dynamic.

Fisherman Tim Barrett does not disagree on the larger point.  “We have about a 90 percent retention rate on our targeted species,” he says.  “Your livelihood depends on the health of the eco-system out here.”

It’s mid-day and he’s heading back to port in Nantucket.  Several yachts pass by.  On one 40-foot vessel, a man with a drink in his hand waves and a woman in a bikini looks skyward toward the  noontime sun.  Barrett figures he’s brought in about $900 dollars in scup and flounder today after seven hours at sea.   Altogether, it’s a good haul.   But he looks worried as he looks for a slip to dock his weather beaten boat

“We’ve lost a fair amount of working waterfront to marinas, condominiums, gentrification of the waterfront property,” he explains, taking a weighty pause.  “We find ourselves being displaced into smaller and smaller working areas in each harbor.”

Tim Barrett says the same point can be made about the state of fishing communities throughout New England.  Attention now shifts to Washington, where regional politicians from both parties are trying to pry money from a deficit-weary administration, and to modify ocean conservation rules that many fear may have gone too far. 

 

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four


Rough Waters: The Ongoing Fight Over Regulating New England Fisheries" is a multi-part series produced by 89.7 WGBH Radio.

Phillip Martin – senior investigative reporter
Rachel Gotbaum – reporter
Steve Young – editor and executive producer
Katie Broida – photographer and researcher
Nic Campos – researcher
Jane Pipik - engineer

Rough Waters: Declining Fish Populations

By Phillip Martin   |   Friday, August 27, 2010
0 Comments   0 comments.

More Rough Waters:
Part One: Rough Waters
Phillip Martin explores the history of Federal regulation of fishing.

Part Two: Rough Waters
Rachel Gotbaum examines the transition from "Days at Sea" to "Sectors."
Part Four: Rough Waters
Rachel Gotbaum profiles the historic fishing village of Port Clyde Maine--one of only three commercial groundfishing ports left in the state and where a group of fishermen are determined to save their fishery by trying some unorthodox ways of doing business.

Part Five: Rough Waters
Phillip Martin reports on how new conservation rules are affecting the lives of those in the local fishing industry.

Phillip Martin and Rachel Gotbaum on The Emily Rooney Show

Working Waterfront Festival
Celebrating Commercial Fishing, America's Oldest Industry
September 25 & 26, 2010
Port of New Bedford

A report released this month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA, shows that New England fishermen have brought in 10 percent less fish than they did a year ago. However, revenues are up by 17 percent since new fishing rules went into effect on May 1st. Under the new regulations, fishemen work in groups to land a maximum amount of groundfish, like haddock and flounder. Despite this revenue increase, commercial anglers up and down the east coast complain that the rules are putting a good number of them out of business. Development of the new system is part of an ongoing effort to conserve North Atlantic fish stocks and is based in part on the findings of scientists. Those conclusions have often led to conflict with fishermen and their supporters who question the validity of the data, research, and methodology

The question, “How many fish are in the sea?” never quite rang with the same profundity as questions like, “who are we?” or “where do we come from?” But fish population numbers have long intrigued marine biology scientists, and fishermen whose futures are determined by the answers to this query. That question took on special urgency in the 1980s and early 90s with the expansion of the American fishing fleet in the Atlantic and the invention of new technologies. It wasn’t long before environmentalists, scientists, and fishermen all noticed a dramatic decline in fish stocks.

Fisherman Glen Libby has been fishing off the coast of Maine for 40 years, and with a device called a video sounder, he could actually see the fish beneath the waves. He noticed that they were coming closer and closer to shore. Libby says, “people started to figure out that we can start catching fish year round. What was happening was these fish had sort of sanctuary and they would make a spawning run. That’s when we were catching them, which was not the best idea, but they would come close to shore. This way, it became apparent that you could fish year round.”

Libby explains that the consequences of year round fishing were huge. He says, “it cleaned up the fish offshore, and if you cleaned those up in the winter time then there was nothing left in the spring and the whole spawning cycle is broken. The fish declined. They stop coming inshore. We would steam 12 to 15 miles in March to start out fishing. Guys will stay out in March right now, steam 100 miles and catch less in three or four days than what they caught in one day [back then].”

Researchers in Woods Hole, Massachusetts came to a similar conclusion. Their findings influenced policy makers to institute a number of regulations to halt overfishing in the Atlantic. These regulations included ones like Days at Sea, which restricted the number of days fishermen could work, and the most recent rule changes called “sectors”.

Underlying all their research is the question “how many fish are in the sea?” The answer comes about in a series of steps. Dr. Russell Brown, the lead scientist for the ecosystem survey program at NOAA’s North East Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, explains the general approach. He says, “In essence what we’re trying to do is really to measure trends in abundance, biomass, geographical distribution, and also the size and age composition of populations in an unbiased way.”

Scientists Brown and Burnett
Scientists Russell Brown (left) and Jay Burnett. Photo: WGBH

Brown works with a team of scientist that also includes Jay Burnett, the leader of the fishery biology program. Burnett says, “99% of the work that my group does is the aging of fish. We take parts of fish, like bones and organs, and prepare them for age determination. From the age compositions you can begin to estimate mortality rates, for example.” Dr. Christopher Legault works alongside them in the population dynamics Center. He says that, “What we do is conduct the stock assessments, which pull together the data from Russell's group, the observer group, Jay's group, plus all the catch info from the fishermen, and combine them in computer models that try and relate all these different pieces to estimate how many fish are out in the sea.”

Another way to look at it, says Dr. Russell Brown, is to think of fish surveying as a political poll. He explains that, “You'll see the political poll will say that we sampled a thousand adults, and we’re going to infer from there how 350 million people are going to vote. We do it similarly [with the fish], and then we randomly sample within each of those areas.” That poll, according to statistics supplied by the New England Fishery Management Council, today shows 11 species of groundfish to be overfished, including witch flounder and ocean pout.

As in politics, not everyone agrees with how the fish population poll was conducted. Tim Barrett is the captain of the Odessa and has been fishing commercially for more than 20 years. Barrett, who studied marine biology at the University of Rhode Island, says fishermen often have a better knowledge of the sea and a clearer idea of what is overfished or underfished than many government scientists. He believes that “a vast number of the people out here [fishing] today are college graduates that have degrees in history and business and science. So when you get some of these scientists, it’s not too hard for these people to decipher what they’re talking about or they can come up with better ways of doing it.”

Dr. Russell Brown at Woods Hole says they work cooperatively with fishermen but, “the reality is fishermen and scientists have different objectives in terms of why we're out there. That's why we're fishing in areas sometimes where fishermen don't think fish are. We're aware of that, but we need to be sure of where they are and where they aren’t.” To create a sustainable fish food supply, marine scientists say it is also essential to understand what fishermen are hauling in from the ocean and what they’re throwing back into its depths.

Discarded fish brings up the role of the “observer.” Jason Dean is a tall, lanky self-effacing guy. His young career has consisted of hopping on and off fishing boats here in New Bedford over the past ten years. Despite his experience, he is not exactly welcomed with open arms by many ship crews and their captains, who often see observers as a nuisance aboard already crowded ships. Jason Dean supervises observers for a private contractor that works with NOAA. He sees his own role as essential in monitoring catch levels on behalf of science. Dean says his job is “when the net comes up, after being drug along the ocean for however long they choose, maybe one hour maybe a few hours, they bring the net back up and empty all the catch out. The crew takes out kept stuff and I sort all the discards. Anything they don’t want from crabs to small cod or haddock, I weigh it, length it, and get rid of it. Jason Dean believes that observers play an important function in helping to replenish the Atlantic. But many along this dock see observers as the eyes and ears of government regulators.

Dr. Brian Rothschild, however, is viewed quite differently. Rothschild is a noted Professor of Marine Science and Technology at UMass Dartmouth and a self-described “friend of fishermen.” He says his disagreement with scientific colleagues is largely over how some fish are counted, and he cites cod as an example, “The fact of the matter is that over the past several years we’ve tagged perhaps 30,000 cod. We have several thousand recoveries. And so the cod swim back and forth between the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank, between Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank and the Scotian Shelf, Georges Bank and the Bay of Fundy, so it’s not clear that there are separate populations of cod. So if it’s not clear that there are separate populations of cod, then any stock assessment could be overestimating or underestimating the cod populations and so the cod population may not be overfished right now.”

Government scientists, whose work often forms the inertia for fisheries policies, admit that there is always an element of uncertainty in some findings. Writer Paul Greenberg in his new book, Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, blames scientists for playing a major role in overfishing cod by promoting the idea that there was an infinite number of fish in the sea. Now, some critics believe government scientists have gone 180 degrees in an assessment that laments the massive depletion of Atlantic groundfish stocks.

For his part, Dr. Russell Brown says his team of scientists in Woods Hole work hard to deliver unbiased information that reflects hard facts, empirical evidence and data that is tested and tested and tested again. He says that when his team puts out positive information that argues for lifting restrictions on fishermen, no one really questions the science. Dr. Brown cites the example of “the Bottom Trawl Survey, [which] in the autumn of 2003 found the largest haddock year class in 30 years on Georges Bank. When we put out that information based on one survey, there was a great deal of uncertainty. Nobody questioned this because it was very good news.”

Gloucester fisherman at work
Gloucester fisheman at work. Photo: WGBH

New Bedford fisherman, Antonio Pereira, is one person who does give credit to government scientists for the work they do. He blames neither them nor observers for the new federal regulations that he says have kept his boat, the Blue Seas II, tied up at the dock since April. He says, “They are doing the best job that they can and they are trying to collect as much data as they can, and I guess we will show what we’re doing out there and what is right and what is wrong.” What is wrong, says Pereira, is that massive tons of fish are being thrown back into the sea. Pereira says from the point of view of fishing families, it seems like a waste. And, he believes, it also seems to make no sense scientifically, “That fish could be brought in. It’s one of the things they have to work on more harder than they’re working on so far.”

Some fishermen say they are doing better under sectors than they did with the Days at Sea system. Peter Libro fishes in Gloucester. He says under sectors he is getting paid more for his fish and the new rules are more flexible and more economical. He can now catch more fish per trip. He explains, "it has made us more efficient because under the Days at Sea trip limits you could go out and catch 800 pounds of fish and that was it, but it would cost $200 worth of fuel. Now with the same $200 worth of fuel, you can catch 2,000 pounds."

Supporter of sectors say it has worked in other parts of the country. John Sackton is editor of Seafood News, and he points out that "if you look at salmon, for example, in Alaska, one of the first things they put in their state constitution was to put strict limits on salmon fishing. Today, they have the biggest salmon runs that they’ve had in a hundred years." However, even fans of the new regulations say they could lead to the further demise of the small boat fishing fleet unless protections are put in place.

Gloucester fisherman Peter Libro worries about his future, but he says he is going to try to hang on. He explains, "the reason I am optimistic is because I think the stocks are going to get better and stronger in this system. I think it will be tough for a few years, but I think once things get stronger our allocation will come up. I think it will be more viable again to be a fisherman." While Libro and other New England fishermen try to adapt to their new way of life, Massachusetts lawmakers have asked the Obama administration for $150 million in immediate aid to help those fishermen hurt by the new regulations.


Part One | Part Two | Part Four | Part Five


"Rough Waters: The Ongoing Fight Over Regulating New England Fisheries" is a multi-part series produced by 89.7 WGBH Radio.

Phillip Martin – senior investigative reporter
Rachel Gotbaum – reporter
Steve Young – editor and executive producer
Katie Broida – researcher
Nic Campos – researcher
Robin Moore - engineer

Rough Waters: History of Fishing Regulation

By Phillip Martin   |   Friday, August 27, 2010
0 Comments   0 comments.

Fishing Boats
Commercial fishing boats in Gloucester, MA. Since the 1970s, regulations in commercial fishing off the coast of Massachusetts have limited the number of days fisherman can spend at sea. Photo: WGBH

BOSTON -- Environmentalists and marine scientists have long argued that the stock of common food fish such as cod and flounder are in danger of being harvested to the point of extinction. In the 1970s, the federal government began a regulatory system to restrict commercial fishing off the nation’s coasts in an attempt to save and replenish these endangered fish stocks. This regulatory scheme evolved into an oversight program known as Days at Sea. Anglers who were used to catching fish 300 days out of the calendar year were suddenly reduced to half or less of that number, and the effects on fishing communities were disastrous.
 

Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk. Photo: WGBH

The stakeholders in this on-going controversy of course include the fishermen and the fishermen's wives. Then there are marine researchers and other top scientists with decidedly different points of view. Policy experts and environmentalists are major players in the debate over the future of the Northeast fish industry, and so too are the leaders of fishing communities, such as Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk and New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang. All of these people are passionate about New England fisheries, but not all of them can agree whether the fish stocks are depleted. To understand why groundfish stocks in the Northeast were overfished and how that led to the crisis in the fishing industry today, we have to go back in New England's past.

"Do you have any cod on the menu?" It’s a dark, orange twilight evening on the terrace of Harvard Square’s best known fish restaurant, and I’m scouring the dinner menu for cod. My waiter informs me that no cod is available, but they do have plenty of haddock. So how did cod—once a food as easy to come by as hamburger and as cheap as chicken —become so unavailable?

The answer lies in the way cod and other groundfish have been harvested in the past and, quite a few would argue, the way that resulting fish management polices have been carried out. Many would also say that the polices themselves devised by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , better known as NOAA, are the reason for cod's disappearance. As far back as the 19th century, fishermen began noticing that some fish stocks were shrinking, but most observers—including government scientists— believed that there was an infinite supply of cod, pollock, hake, flounder and other species of groundfish.
 

Ed Barrett
South Shore fisherman Ed Barrett. Photo: WGBH

In the 1970s, US fishermen faced massive competition from foreign fleets from as far away as Italy, France and the United Kingdom. According to Reidar Bendiksen, "We had a lot of Russians. They were the biggest bunch that came here." Bendiksen’s father and grandfather were fishermen in Norway. He continued that tradition when he moved to New Bedford to explore new fishing grounds in the Northeast Atlantic. When Bendiksen arrived, he found that he was not alone, " I see Russians in the 60’s and then they kind of spilled over into the 70’s. Once you saw the fleet and you tried to fish with that fleet, the fish would disappear, quickly, but there was a lot of fish out there at the time. They didn’t clean up the fish, but they did a good dent in it, let’s put it that way. They really reduced the numbers quite a bit." They took so much fish that fishermen began lobbying the federal government for protections from foreign fleets. The result was the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act passed in 1976, which expanded American jurisdiction of fisheries from a 12-mile limit to 200 miles offshore. Suddenly, the industry exploded with activity. Individuals who maybe a year before had been driving cabs for a living or were even practicing law became fishermen. Guys who had been fishing all their lives jokingly viewed these newcomers as fly-by-nighters. One such fisherman is like Ed Barrett from the South Shore. He says, "There was a lot of growth in the early 80’s. There were a lot of boats being built." Too many, in the view of both environmentalists and fishermen—one of the few points on which they seem to agree.

More Rough Waters:
Part Two: Rough Waters
Rachel Gotbaum examines the transition from "Days at Sea" to "Sectors."

Part Three: Rough Waters
Phillip Martin looks at the alarming decline in local fish populations.
Part Four: Rough Waters
Rachel Gotbaum profiles the historic fishing village of Port Clyde Maine--one of only three commercial groundfishing ports left in the state and where a group of fishermen are determined to save their fishery by trying some unorthodox ways of doing business.

Part Five: Rough Waters
Phillip Martin reports on how new conservation rules are affecting the lives of those in the local fishing industry.

Phillip Martin and Rachel Gotbaum on The Emily Rooney Show

Working Waterfront Festival
Celebrating Commercial Fishing, America's Oldest Industry
September 25 & 26, 2010
Port of New Bedford

Shortly after the US Presidency transferred from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan, the government began offering low interest loans to speed the “Americanization” of the fleet. Suddenly, from the coast to 200 miles out at sea, bigger steel boats with better technology appeared on the horizon. American corporate factory ships using enormous bottom dragging nets were capturing anything in their paths. Haddock, perch, red snapper, wolf fish, skate and other ground species were scooped up in massive quantities without much consideration given to the question: just how many fish are there in the sea? According to Ed Barrett, "By the early 1990s, a lot of fishermen were already saying something’s wrong here. We need management."

The program that was institutionalized in direct response to dwindling fish stocks was Days at Sea. Angela Sanfilippo says to many people, the cure was worse than the disease, "Before then fishermen were free to fish. With the passage of the act, rules and regulations came to be which made life difficult. We’ve had ups and downs through the years. Things got much worse in ’94. By one estimate, 6,400 fishermen lost their livelihoods during the time the program was in place." Yet Ed Barrett says there were objective benefits to Days at Sea. He says, "We made tremendous gains with the stock populations when we started to do these things. And we saw dividends. The problem came as we interpreted the sustainable fisheries act in very strict senses. And that came about through the lawsuits from the environmental industry."

Several lawsuits by key environmental organizations were filed between 1996 and 2006. They were intended to stop overfishing and to strengthen the Days at Sea program. Environmentalists argue that the failure of Days at Sea was the result of mismanagement, not its objectives. Peter Baker is a top researcher with the Pew Environment Group and a northeast fisheries specialist. He says, "the Days at Sea system just got too ridiculous and got to the point where guys had 23 days at sea. With 365 days in a year, that's 342 days you are not going out to do your job. The fisherman that wanted to make a living fishing had to go out and buy another permit. All of sudden you have fishermen who are carrying half a million or a million dollars in debt and they have to borrow against their house. They’re only a bad trip or a blown motor from going bankrupt."
 

Scott Lang
New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang. Photo: WGBH

Tom Warren, a policy analyst for NOAA in Gloucester, doesn't agree Days at Sea was a failure. He contends that "Days at Sea is a tool that has been used and some still prefer it, so we're in a period of evolution. The environmentalists are concerned we're not acting quickly enough, achieving our objectives quickly enough, whereas the fishing industry is concerned that we are acting too quickly and need to slow down the pace at which we reduce fishing effort. Overall it's been successful at reducing fishing mortality from historic levels and at rebuilding many stocks."

Indeed, fish stocks —with the exception of several species of cod, wolfish and hake— have made a dramatic rebound since the 1990s. Even so, fishermen argue that if federal policies and regulations were carried out correctly, the government could have saved both the fish and the families that rely on catching them for a living. The federal government has acknowledged that the livelihoods of thousands of families have been adversely affected by the Days at Sea policy. However, some fishermen and their supporters say that the government's new regulatory policy to replace Days at Sea may be far worse in terms of negative impact.This stance has led to a major lawsuit against NOAA. New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang believes that NOAA has overstepped its authority in their management of the New England fisheries. He argues that, "This agency in their mind has become bigger than the law, bigger than the people that they’re accountable too."

The lawsuit is spearheaded by the mayors of America’s tenth largest and largest fishing communities, Gloucester and New Bedford. Mayor Lang explains, "what this [lawsuit] is all about is bringing [NOAA] back to a level that is appropriate and within the check and balance of federal, local, and state systems. If they don’t clean it up, Congress will, and if Congress doesn’t, a judge will, but one way or another, this has to change."

The blame and counter blame for the impoverishment of many fishermen who no longer make a living from the sea continues to the present day. but not all fishermen agree that the latest government policy option—called sectors—is a bad idea. Some are even embracing it as a way to save their fast dying industry.

Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five


"Rough Waters: The Ongoing Fight Over Regulating New England Fisheries" is a multi-part series produced by 89.7 WGBH Radio.

 

Phillip Martin – senior investigative reporter
Rachel Gotbaum – reporter
Steve Young – editor and executive producer
Katie Broida – photographer and researcher
Nic Campos – researcher
Robin Moore - engineer

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Smelly Seaweed Shocks Sunbathers and Sponges

By Toni Waterman   |   Tuesday, July 3, 2012
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July 5, 2012



BOSTON — If you've been spending early summer at the beach, you might have noticed something in the air. An invasive and quite ... pungent ... species of seaweed has made its way to the East Coast from Asia. Judy Pederson of MIT’s Sea Grant Program said the seaweed, which favors rocky shorelines and coves, could be squeezing out native species.
 
"We’re finding that over time these non-native species come in early, they grow faster or sooner than our native species and then they begin to displace them," she said. "And the native species they might displace are things like mussels, barnacles, sponges — things that are typically what we think of as our major New England species."
 
The seaweed has also become a hassle to state workers, who say they have no place to dispose of it — or the money and resources necessary to do so.

About the Authors
Phillip Martin Phillip Martin
Phillip W. D. Martin is the senior investigative reporter for WGBH Radio News and executive producer for Lifted Veils Productions. In the past, he was a supervising senior editor for NPR, an NPR race relations correspondent and one of the senior producers responsible for creating The World radio program in 1995. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in 1998. Learn more at liftedveils.org.

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