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Glosta Daily

May 29, 2014

Fish plan redux

Yesterday's edition of Glosta Daily hadn't been up for more than an hour when, just as we were heading out the door to visit with Joltin' Joe Lucido, Gloucester's barber to the stars, word reached us that the framework for the plan to distribute the nearly $33 million in federal fishery disaster aid was finally in place.

That put Joe on the back burner and left us scurrying to feed the requisite beasts, posting it (twice) as breaking news on gloucestertimes.com and sending out about a half-dozen tweets on Twitter (@SeanGDT if you're scoring at home). Oh yeah, then we wrote the story for today's GDT (click here), a story that actually had to be re-written a number of times as people returned calls and more info became available.

All in all, a fun, busy day in the news biz.

A couple of overnight thoughts as I've had a chance to digest and ruminate on the plan approved by NOAA and the state fishery directors of six states:

*This really was a compromise, not only among a host of varied interests, from industry stakeholders to regulators and government/politicians, but within those disparate groups, as well.

NOAA honcho John Bullard wasn't kidding when he said that a month ago he wasn't even sure they would ever find a plan amenable to all. So, kudos to all the parties for hanging in there and keeping in front of them the one thing that really matters: help the people who have been kicked around by the fishing disaster that continues to this day.

*It made sense to divide the plan into three elements _ the direct aid to permit holders, state-specific grants that can be used to help other fishing-related businesses and interests not covered in the direct assistance (such as vessel crew members and shoreside businesses) and the vessel buyout/buyback plan _ and even more sense to put the machinery in motion to deliver about $22 million in assistance from the first two elements while trying to figure out how to accomplish the vessel buyback/buyout portion of the plan.

But I just don't understand why it's going to take four or five months to begin getting the checks for $32,463 into the hands of eligible fishermen. I know the funds have to flow from NOAA to the states, but that's just a matter of accounting. Billions of dollars fly around the world every day at the push of five buttons, so why will this take so long?

The eligible fishermen _ 194 in the case of Massachusetts _ should have those checks within a few weeks, not five months. Bullard said NOAA already has the list and is giving it to Massachusetts pronto.

Massachusetts should take that list and cut the checks.

Lastly, the fishermen shouldn't have to wait on those checks while the states and NOAA haggle about the individual spending plans developed by the states for the state-specific grants contained in the second funding element.

This needs to be expedited. Send the checks and then deal with the other stuff.

*The real battle over this plan might be yet to come. The roughly $11 million for the vessel buyout/buyback portion of the plan could be the most contentious, pitting against each other differing philosophies and interests of various factions within industry stakeholders.

The industry seems to have finally had its Come to Jesus moment regarding capacity and consolidation. For the industry to survive, everyone now seems to agree there will have to be fewer boats so those that remain will have increased catch capacity and a better chance at prosperity in the brave new world of commercial fishing.

There doesn't seem to be any other way. But how do you go about doing that so that everyone is comfortable with the nature and the composition of the fleet going forward? That's a prickly one, but also the one element of this plan that can have a serious impact on the future sustainability of the industry. Everything else is short-term.

This, that and the other . . . 

I was taking another look at the Division 2 North state baseball tournament bracket and this is a fascinating draw. Not only are our Fightin' Fishmongers the No. 1 seed going into Saturday afternoon's tilt against the winner of Friday night's Belmont-Beverly juego, but arch-rivals Danvers and Masconomet lurk on the other side of the bracket.

No. 2 seed Masconomet will play Saturday against the winner of the Wilmington-Arlington game and the third-seeded Falcons (I prefer Oniontowners) will get the winner of Dracut and Lynn Classical.

How great would it be if GHS can navigate the minefield of a draw that includes Beverly/Belmont, Reading/Boston Latin, Winchester/North Andover and find themselves in the finals against the mighty Falcons of my hometown?

Now, that would be a game worth watching.

What are we going to do about this girl?

I can't think of Winchester without thinking of the tony little town's favorite daughter, the Sachem-centric and pedal-to-the-medal K-Mac.

This girl is a bike-riding fool. She has several loops from her secret lair in the wilds of Annisquam. Some take her along the Boulevard and out to Stage Fort Park. Others go across the waterfront and on out to Good Harbor and her new favorite is a little bit of both, with a trek out to the Dog Bar (the Eastern Point breakwater, not the gin mill . . .though, well, who knows?) thrown in for good measure.

Last weekend she not only went to out the Dog Bar, she rode her trail bike with the Carl Yastrzemski baseball cards (no worries, not his rookie year, but his 1971 card, when he hit .254 with only 15/70) in the spokes all the way out to the end of the breakwater and then back to terra firma.

Do I have to go into detail as to why that is a bad idea? How one rutted tire or wave or gust of wind could have ended up with a trip over the side and into the briny deep, with a few deep gashes (not the chin again!) and possibly a concussion thrown in for good measure?

So, to any lobstermen or fishermen, if you see K-Mac bobbing in the waves some day, please haul her out and get her back to dry land. Beers will be on me. Better yet, beers will be on her as we toast her intrepid insanity.

Last Song Out the Door: John Sebastian's "Black Satin Kid" off his 1971 album "The Four of Us"

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT and check out his blog, Glosta Daily, on gloucestertimes.com

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