Sam Novello began fishing 61 years ago, when he was a wee Gloucester lad of 9 years.
Now 70, Novello may be done fishing, but he hasn’t finished going to bat for those who still ply their trade on the water.
Novello has assembled a second proposal to expand fishing for whiting off the Massachusetts-New Hampshire coast for the approximately one dozen Cape Ann boats that pursue whiting — predominantly silver hake — to mitigate the withering cuts in the allowable catch limits for cod and other groundfish.
Novello has approached the New England Fisheries Management Council about opening the small mesh whiting fishing area that spans part of Ipswich Bay up to the New Hampshire coast — also known as small mesh area 1 — two weeks earlier to take advantage of the species’ new migratory patterns.
”The whiting are showing up sooner and in heavier numbers in this area,” Novello said. “I think the area is clean and there’s a lot of whiting in there, and we’re missing the boat.”
Currently, small mesh area 1 is open for fishing from July 15 to Nov. 15. Novello would like to open the season on July 1 instead.
”What’s two weeks going to hurt?” he asked. “I don’t see why we can’t do this for 2014, or at least start putting a research boat in there, and I couldn’t even get that out of them.”
Novello said he first approached National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency staff with his idea and was told to bring his proposal to the NEFMC.
”I think they were giving me a bit of the runaround,” Novello said.
He then contacted the Newburyport-based NEFMC and said he was told no changes could be made to the area’s fishing schedule until 2015 at the earliest.
”That’s it,” Novello said. “That’s all I got.”