To the editor:
History tells us that, before the establishment of the Gloucester Designated Port Area, our harbor was a diversified economic engine.
In the early 1970s, however, foreign fishing fleets were scouring our fishing grounds depleting fish stocks at an alarming rate. Thanks to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the foreign fleet was banished from our shores.
About the same time, condominiums became a craze, springing up along the coast. The thinking at the time, and rightly so, was that U.S. fishing would make a rebound. In 1978, a need to protect the fishing infrastructure came in the form of the DPA.
Our harbor was then home to over 400 fishing vessels and at least three times as many recreational boats as now, as well as to a dozen or so additional fish processors.
The I-4, C-2 site was once the location of a freezer warehouse that was serviced by trucks, not vessels. We also had a robust sea cargo industry that slowly faded due to containerization.
Now, however, we have NOAA doing its best to reduce commercial fishing. Look around and you’ll see over 900 feet of unused dock space at the freezer warehouses, rotted pilings where piers once stood.
I’m convinced, more than ever, that the DPA must go.
Waterfront property owners need fair and equitable zoning opportunities to maximize their property uses and allow the harbor to once again become a valued economic engine.
With thoughtful zoning, the present fishing infrastructure should and must remain for when NOAA gets its act together. But the fishing industry will never be as dominant as it once was.
History tells us that this harbor can accommodate much more than we see today, with room to grow if need be.
Since 1978, however we’ve had “depressed port activity” — and that’s what the DPA truly stands for!