Fisherman: Catch-Share Sectors 'Eliminate' Some Business

By Bob Seay

May 6, 2011

More than half of New England's groundfish fleet has stayed at dock this season, citing the new catch shares management system as the reason and sparking a heated political battle. (Heather Goldstone/WGBH)

BOSTON — The New England fishing industry continues to experience growing pains. For some fishing families, however, it is more like convulsions. This time last year, in an effort to sustain and replenish ground fish stocks, the national marine Fisheries Service implemented a new regulatory system called sectors.

Sectors are essentially cooperatives that pool together fishing rights based on histories of members. Marine scientists and some fishermen viewed sectors as a step above the previous system, which set limits on the days that professional anglers could be at sea.

Last Friday, we spoke with a longtime Harwich fisherman Eric Hesse, who had an overall favorable view of the new rules. "I have been able to fish in a way that is more effective for my business than under days at sea. I've been able to market my fish more effectively, choose my fishing locations and actually which species I target."

But another fisherman, Tim Barrett, views it differently. Barrett has also been fishing since the mid-1980's out of Plymouth. He spoke to WGBH's Bob Seay about the problems he says sectors are causing for his work. "The sectors from my aspect have essentially elimiated all my commercial groundfishing for the winter. I've lost about 60 percent of my gross income, due to the fact that I've been given a low allocation."

Click the player above to listen to Barrett's full interview.

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