New Mass. Cod Regs for Inshore Waters
The following is a report of a hearing held by Mass. DMF yesterday in Plymouth and appears in today's Cape Cod Times. It certainly leaves some questions unanswered as regads to private, party and charterboat fishing in state waters for Cod and other groundfish..Will they require new permits? Have rod & reels banned in state waters and relegated to shore fishing?
February 8, 2006
State stiffens rules for cod
By DOUG FRASER
PLYMOUTH - Hard on the heels of new federal fishing regulations that cut in half the number of fishing days inshore fishermen could use annually, the state is proposing rules that could shut many out of fishing in state waters as well.
State Division of Marine Fisheries Director Paul Diodati told around 100 fishermen at a public hearing last night that, as of May 1, the state will only allow inshore fishermen who do not have federal groundfish permits to catch cod, haddock, flounder and other bottom feeding species. Under the new state rules, fishermen also would have to have landed at least 1,000 pounds of groundfish in any year, or split between two years, between 1992 and 2004.
The state will also require that anyone who has a state rod and reel permit must fish from shore, not on a boat.
The new state rules are in response to illegal and legal fishing that has decimated what the state regulators call ''the last vestige of the Gulf of Maine cod stock.''
Gulf of Maine cod is in tough shape. The state believes that the only large grouping of spawning Gulf of Maine cod from Cape Cod to the Canadian border is located in state waters in Massachusetts Bay.
For the past three years, fishermen have been hitting Gulf of Maine cod hard because they are close to shore and accessible to the smaller boats of inshore fishermen as well as larger offshore vessels. State Gulf of Maine cod landings have tripled over the past three years from 500,000 pounds to 1.5 million pounds last year.
Diodati said the Gulf of Maine quota for cod was met in January, with three months more to go in the fishing year. A recent study showed that Gulf of Maine cod population levels have dropped by 10 percent in recent years despite some of the harshest fishing regulations ever imposed.
Last night, inshore fishermen argued they were being made scapegoats for federal regulations that didn't work, and for illegal fishing that they had no part in.
Provincetown fisherman Beau Gribbin said that, as a federally permitted fisherman, he has to steam more than 30 miles to get around closed areas and has passed many recreational fishermen in small boats fishing in those areas.
Dan McKiernan, a Department of Marine Fisheries deputy director, conceded analysis of landings data found that many boats had landed more than the 800 pounds per trip they were permitted by claiming an additional 800 pounds allowed under rod and reel permits.
Gribbin, who just spent $120,000 to buy a boat with a state permit and another $26,000 in gear, found out last night his permit was worthless because he didn't have enough landings of groundfish to qualify for the new state license.
Lenny Michaud of Sandwich also feels he slipped between the cracks of federal and state regulations. He switched from groundfishing to scalloping in 1996, and had no landings during the federal qualifying period, which meant he was given no fishing days under his federal permit. But because he had a federal permit, he couldn't qualify for the new state license either