New rules could end local fishermen's way of life
GLOUCESTER, Mass. (WHDH) -- For decades, commercial fishing has been the life blood of the New England coast - and perhaps nowhere is that more true than in Gloucester.
But now the government is about to impose a perfect storm of new rules on cod fishermen that could end their way of life.
Gloucester Massachusetts is America’s oldest fishing port dating back nearly 400 years.
Its way of life made famous but the Hollywood blockbuster "The Perfect Storm about fishermen from Gloucester facing a potentially deadly hurricane
But the Gloucester way of life is dying, one bucket at a time.
“What we have here is cod. That's like the major cash crop if you will, right? So if you eliminate that, you're basically cutting off our legs and saying, ah, can you live without em'?” said Duffey.
In May, new federal restrictions will cut the catch limit of Atlantic cod in the nearby Gulf of Maine by 77-percent. After decades of overfishing confirmed in tests showing the species in danger officials said.
“If the fishermen were catching lots of cod I would say there's a reason to criticize the science. But the fishermen are not catching cod,” said Bullard.
In fact, they haven't met their cod quotas since they were issued in 2010.
Yet fishermen like Donald King, who's already downsized his operation from 10 employees to two said they're now being forced to make-do on even less.
“We're at the end of the rope. How can you ask anyone to take a 77 percent reduction in their ability to earn and generate revenue and survive? It's not going to happen,” said King.
Even before these new reductions go into effect, the fleet in Gloucester has been reeling in recent years, down nearly a third since 2009. And just today these fishermen say they can count just two boats out in the water working.
Russell Sherman has hammered out a decent living on the water since the seventies, though it’s much tougher these days as captain of the Lady Jane.
“After thirty years of work, and obeying the law, and doing what you were told and working darn hard too, all of a sudden you hit a brick wall. And at my age hitting a brick wall is no longer easy to absorb,” said Sherman.
Richard Gaines writes about the fishing industry for the Gloucester daily times.
“You feel it everywhere in the community. That's what Gloucester is. It's a fishing port. And if it's not a fishing port, I don't know what it's going to be,” said Gaines.
The iconic fishing town faces an uncertain future - threatening a way of life that was once as certain as the tide.