, Gloucester, MA

Latest Cape Ann News

July 21, 2010

Marine Sanctuary plan poses dire fishing threat

A draft reauthorization of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, circulated for comment by a California congresswoman, contains anti-fishing language that would bar commercial trawling in the nation's 14 sanctuaries — including Stellwagen Bank where the vast majority of groundfish landed in Gloucester are caught.

Stellwagen or Middle Bank, as the cod rich waters were known in the 17th and 18th centuries and still are today in the fishing world, accounts for the vast majority of the volume landed by the inshore day boat fleet.

Of that, roughly 60 percent, fishermen have estimated, is landed using trawl gear, a fast-developing technology with a hard-to-shake, bad reputation. Recent innovations include the Ruhle Eliminator Trawl, so-called for its ability to funnel out of the net unwanted species.

The elimination of trawling in Stellwagen, created in 1992, would send shockwaves through the port.

"It's all over, that's where we go," said Joe Orlando, captain of the Gloucester-based trawler Padre Pio.

Crafted in the office of U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, a Santa Barbara Democrat, the language in the "discussion draft" also launches a proliferation of sanctuaries, assigning the Secretary of Commerce to add by 2030 "a full range of the nation's marine eco-regions and rare and unique marine habitats and a full range of maritime heritage resource areas."

The draft bill, which was circulated in recent weeks for comment by stakeholders including environmental and tribal groups, commercial and recreational fishermen and academic and research organizations, have drawn intense opposition from fishing groups, which have complained to Capps' staff that the ban on bottom trawling marked a breach of faith.

As elsewhere in the system, the creation of a marine sanctuary in 1992 of Stellwagen Bank — an 842-square mile intersection of currents and updrafts to a shallow, largely sandy bottom that attracts man, boat and sea creatures — brought a explicit commitment by the government that the grounds in the sanctuary would be protected for fishing, not from it.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest Cape Ann News

Pictures of the Week
Your news, your way
Comments Tracker
AP Video Network
Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing