Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Delegation to lobby for fishing days



NEW BEDFORD — Determined to ease proposed federal fishing regulations that would go into effect May 1, state and local government officials and fishing representatives are headed to Washington, D.C., today to meet with the top administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey organized the meeting with Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr. to discuss potential alternatives to the proposed regulations, which would cut fishing days by nearly 50 percent to reduce overfishing on depleted stocks of cod and flounder.
Lt. Gov. Healey — who is running for governor — is "very concerned" about the impact the rules would have on the Massachusetts fishing industry, said her spokeswoman Laura Nicoll.
New Bedford Mayor Scott W. Lang and Dr. Brian Rothschild of the UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology will join Lt. Gov. Healey at today's meeting, which is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The meeting will also be attended by state Sen. Bruce E. Tarr, R- Gloucester, state Division of Marine Fisheries director Paul J. Diodati and Gloucester fisherman Vito Giacalone.
The proposed regulations would cut fishermen's already limited fishing days by 40 percent due to a new counting method that would calculate each actual day at sea as 1.4 days. In addition, fishermen would face an 8 percent reduction in their total days at sea, as required by federal fishing regulations, known as Amendment 13.
NOAA Fisheries Service designed the interim rules as a temporary way to reduce fishing pressure until a more permanent groundfish plan — approved by the New England Fishery Management Council in early February — is adopted sometime this summer.
Local fishermen have decried the interim rules, saying they would push some boat owners out of business. A few boat owners said they plan to keep their boats tied to the docks until the council's less stringent rules go into effect.

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