05/30/2009 - Vincenzo Russo, a fisherman here for 35 years, used to fish as many days as he wanted, but federal regulations now require him to secure expensive permits — up to $500,000 — if he wants to fish more than 73 days a year.
To protect declining stocks, the government has been increasing efforts to restrict the number of groundfish — species like cod, haddock and flounder found at the bottom of the sea — that can be caught per day and narrowing the number of days New England fishermen can be out.
After more than a decade of growing tensions with federal regulators, fishermen here and throughout New England are pushing for a new system based on group quotas that would avoid these individual restrictions.
The system calls for fishermen to band together in groups called “sectors” that would receive the right to take a set percentage of the annual catch of a variety of fish. Two sectors have been operating in Cape Cod on an experimental basis, and in April, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which regulates ocean fishing, announced that it would provide about $16 million to move the rest of the Northeast toward sector fishing.
As a result of tighter days-at-sea rules, revenues from groundfish fell more than 50 percent in New England from 1994 to 2007, and the number of active boats also declined by about half, said Peter Baker, who manages fisheries policy for the Pew Environment Group.
Read the full article Move to Redefine New England Fishing on The New York Times' Web site.