Obama's Budget Is Mixed Bag For Massachusetts

By Sarah Birnbaum   |   Tuesday, February 15, 2011
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Feb. 15, 2011

President Obama talks about his $3.7 trillion budget for 2012 during a news conference at the White House on Tuesday. (AP)

BOSTON — President Barack Obama unveiled his budget plan yesterday for the upcoming fiscal year.  It cuts back or eliminates some 200 federal programs -- and municipal officials in Massachusetts say they'll feel the pain. 
The budget is a mixed bag for Bay State, according to UMass Boston economist Christian Weller. He says the budget would preserve or expand funding for education and clean energy. Massachusetts, with its strong academic and tech sectors, could benefit from those investments.
"The good news for Massachusetts is continued spending in innovation, more money in research and development, particularly for renewable energies, more money for education, especially in k-12 and more support in college education," Weller said.
But experts say the budget also contains some bad news for the state: Proposed cutbacks in heating assistance for poor families would disproportionately affect New England, where winters are cold, although some observers say Congress is unlikely to accept the President's proposed $2 billion or more cut in the program.

And Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, says the president's planned reduction in so-called community development block grants would be particularly painful for Massachusetts cities and towns.  Beckwith says the grants fund a wide range of neighborhood improvements, everything from road repairs, to the Boys and Girls club to senior housing.
“So we’re talking about basic human services, leveraging housing, leveraging job creation, economic development projects.  These funds are irreplaceable really,” Beckwith said.
President Obama’s budget proposal is just the first move in the Capitol Hill spending debate. Republicans are calling for even steeper cuts.

The Gov.'s Council: An Existential Drama?

By Adam Reilly   |   Friday, February 11, 2011
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Feb. 11, 2011

In 2010, the Governor's council presided over Gov. Patrick's certification of the special Senate election won by Scott Brown. Now, some critics are wondering what the point of the Council is -- and its members are fighting back. (massgovernor/Flickr)

BOSTON — Back in the Colonial era, the Massachusetts Governor’s Council had plenty of clout. Lately, though, it’s acquired a reputation as an antiquated, do-nothing body. Now, calls are mounting to eliminate the Council altogether.

So it may not be a coincidence that the Council has been making life increasingly difficult for Gov. Deval Patrick.
This week, the Governor’s Council nearly rejected Gov. Patrick’s judicial nominee Heather Bradley, showcasing its penchant for political fireworks. At one point, Councilor Marilyn Petitto Devaney waxed indignant about money that Bradley and her husband, State Rep. Garrett Bradley, have lavished on Massachusetts politicians.
“$210,00 dollars just in the past 3 years. How egregious is this?” Devaney asked.
Devaney also turned up the heat on her colleague at the council, Kelly Timilty, who got some of the Bradleys’ cash.
“I will respectfully request Councilor Timilty again to recuse herself from this vote,” Devaney said.
“I will not!” Timilty answered.
“As it would give the appearance of undo influence,” Deveney said, as Timilty shrugged.
Next up was newly elected Republican Councilor Charles Cipollini, who’s quickly earning a reputation for high drama. His commentary on Bradley didn’t disappoint.
“She is grossly unqualified and she lacks the experience,” Cipollini said, almost glowering.
For good measure, Cipollini vowed to continue his anti-Bradley fight even if she became a judge.
“I will file a complaint with the Massachusetts state ethics commission regarding the over $200,000 dollars she and her husband made in political contributions. My vote is no!” Cipollini added.
After the council split four-to-four, Governor Patrick took the gavel so Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray could cast the deciding vote.
He voted yes.
It was the first 5-4 vote in years, and grist for critics who say the Council is a needless impediment. The Boston Globe and the liberal blog Blue Mass. Group say the council should be eliminated. And a new bill from State Senator Brian Joyce would do just that. But supporters like the Fatherhood Coalition’s Joe Ureneck disagree.
“Finally the council is having some real discussion about these judicial nominations that are coming forward, instead of just being a rubber stamp,” Ureneck argued.
Next up for the Council: A vote on Joshua Wall, the governor’s pick to head the state’s troubled Parole Board. If you like political theater, make sure to bring some popcorn.

Gov. Patrick Considered Resigning

By Sarah Birnbaum   |   Wednesday, February 9, 2011
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Feb. 9, 2011

BOSTON — Governor Deval Patrick's tenure in office — now beginning its second term — might have been only weeks long.

The governor and his wife, Diane, attended a state dinner together in 2010. (AP)

That's because the governor considered resigning shortly after he took office, according to his soon-to-be-released memoir.

In the book, he wrote that his wife, Diane, was battling depression in early 2007, as Patrick was navigating his first weeks on the job. She was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. 

Speaking Wednesday, Patrick said they weren't sure if they could weather four years in public life.

"I’m honored to have this job.  I love doing it.  Even on the hardest day, it’s a privilege. But my family comes first. And the period that was reported on was a particularly challenging time in our family but we worked our way through it," Patrick said.

Patrick has said he'll serve out the entirety of his second term, countering speculation he might leave office early to run for Senate in 2012.

Barney Frank Will Seek Re-Election

By Jess Bidgood and Sarah Birnbaum   |   Thursday, February 3, 2011
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Feb. 3, 2011

BOSTON — After almost 20 years in office, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank announced Thursday that he's ready for more.

The 70-year-old representative from Massachusetts' 4th Congressional District said in a statement that he won't retire in 2012, ending speculation that he might make an exit ahead of a redistricting process in which Massachusetts will lose one seat in the House.

"There are a couple of issues that I care very deeply about that are in dispute right now," Frank said during an interview with WGBH. "And I think if I were to be seen as someone planning to get out within two years, or if there was uncertainty, it would weaken my impact."

Frank said he wants to spend more time in office defending the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which he helped pass as chair of the House Financial Services Committee, a position he lost when Republicans gained majority control of the House in the 2010 elections.

"I'm proud of the bill we passed, it took a lot of work, I think it will do a great deal to diminish the liklihood of another financial crash, it protects consumers, it will regulate derivatives, but the Republican majority in the House has already begun to undermine it," Frank said. "I think it is very important that we stay there and protect it."

Frank said he also wants to continue his efforts to cut the U.S. budget deficit by reducing military spending. "We go far beyond what we need to defend ourselves," Frank said.

Frank said he'll also be working on his continued opposition to aspects of federal regulation in East Coast waters.

None of the other sitting representatives have announced plans to step down, which means the state still has 10 members who could be vying for nine seats come 2012.

Frank says he's not worried about a redistricting battle. He's been there before. He was in office when Massachusetts lost a seat in 1982. "They drew up a district that was determined, supposedly, to defeat me. I thought it would, for a variety of reasons I managed to survive it. I understand the ins and outs of redistricting," Frank said.

In some ways, Frank’s district would have been ripe for elimination. It’s one of the most irregularly shaped districts in the country and, arguably would be easy to parcel out among adjacent districts.

But Frank’s stature in Congress may insulate his district from the axe.

Now experts say the most vulnerable Congressional seats are in Western Massachusetts – seats long held by John Olver of Amherst and his neighbor, Richard Neal of Springfield.

The 1st and 2nd districts are geographically large, but population growth has been stagnant and redistricting strategists say it makes sense to combine them.

But like Barney Frank, Neal and Olver say they have no plans to step down, ensuring a tense task for the Legislature’s redistricting committee.

Read the full statement:

I will be running for re-election to the House of Representatives in 2012.

While I would have preferred to put off a discussion about the next election until a later date, I have been asked on a number of occasions about my plans. In addition, I have become convinced that making my decision to run for re-election known is important for maximizing the impact I can have on the range of issues to which I am committed. These issues require a time commitment longer than the next two years.

There are two issues in particular that are of central importance. The first is to defend the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which will substantially diminish the likelihood of the risky and irresponsible behavior which led to the current economic crisis. The law is already under attack by those who oppose meaningful regulation and who would undermine it, either by pressuring regulators to weaken the law or by underfunding agencies such as the SEC and CFTC which are charged with administering it. The House Republican leadership has been very explicit about this, specifically targeting stronger regulation of derivatives, the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and restrictions on excessively risky behavior by federally-insured banks. If these opponents of reform are successful, it will put American workers and families at risk of suffering the effects of another economic meltdown. I intend to do everything in my power to fight their efforts.

My second national priority is to reduce significantly America’s swollen, unnecessary, worldwide military footprint – this is the only way to reconcile the need for us to spend wisely, to promote our economy and to accomplish substantial deficit reduction. Failure to address excessive military spending will either add to the deficit or force cuts in education, police, fire, transportation, scientific research, food safety, and infrastructure investment. The disparity between the cost of America’s legitimate security needs and the money we spend to maintain a worldwide military presence is the single greatest obstacle to responsible deficit reduction. While in the past it has appeared to be politically impossible to make reasonable cuts to excessive military spending, there are recent encouraging signs, including the bipartisan work I have done with Congressman Ron Paul. I will continue to make this a major part of my work in order to improve our economy and preserve our quality of life.

While these two issues are central to our ability to return to a full-employment economy while protecting our quality of life, there are other national and regional issues on which I will be working as well -- protecting the fishing industry in Massachusetts from arbitrary, unjust and unfair actions; fighting for full legal equality for all citizens; providing for the housing needs of low-income people, not by pushing them unwisely and unsustainably into homeownership, but rather by building affordable rental housing; and helping local communities provide a level of service adequate to the needs of their residents.

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

About the Authors
Sarah Birnbaum
Sarah Birnbaum is WGBH News' State House reporter. Send her a news tip.
Adam Reilly Adam Reilly
Adam Reilly is a political reporter and associate producer for WGBH's Greater Boston.
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


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