Too Many Regs: New England Fishermen Going Bankrupt

Minutes after New England fishery managers took a vote that cast doubt on the historic industry’s future, the prospects most clear to Gloucester fishermen Paul Vitale were his own.

“I’m bankrupt. That’s it,” said the 40-year-old father of three. “I’m all done. The boat’s going up for sale.”

The New England Fishery Management Council on Wednesday approved a year-to-year cut of 77 percent on the Gulf of Maine cod limit and 61 percent for Georges Bank cod.

The cuts come on top of a slew of other reductions, ranging from 10 to 71 percent, on the catch of other bottom-dwelling groundfish species, such as haddock and flounder.

Fishermen say now they’re staring at industry collapse because they’ve been left with far too few fish for most boats to make a living.

“We are headed down the wrong course here, of exterminating the inshore fleet, for no good reason,” said David Goethel, a New Hampshire fisherman and council member.

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