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April 23, 2013

Fishermen still welcome in Beverly?

As waterfront improves, some worry about access

BEVERLY — New rules restricting fishing on the waterfront are raising concerns among local fishermen about their historic access to the area.

The Beverly Harbor Management Authority voted 7-1 recently to limit fishing to a section of Glover Wharf and the end of the public pier. “No fishing” signs were scheduled to be put up earlier this month.

The committee chairman, Paul Earl, said the new rules are designed to balance the needs of recreational boaters, commercial boaters, fishermen and members of the general public who want to use the waterfront, which is in the midst of millions of dollars in upgrades.

“Our goal is to use this small space to the benefit all four constituencies,” Earl said.

But some say the new rules put too many restrictions on fishermen, who for years have fished at various locations on the waterfront.

More than 700 people signed a petition asking the Harbor Authority, a volunteer board that oversees the waterfront, to allow fishing on a section of the recently renovated platform behind the old McDonald’s building, where a Black Cow restaurant is scheduled to be built.

The Harbor Authority granted the petitioners their wish. But Steve Lotito, the owner of Al’s Bait Shop across the street from the waterfront and the person who started the petition, said he’s worried that fishermen are being squeezed out as the waterfront is developed.

“There’s still less access than there was,” Lotito said. “They still have a lockdown on the whole waterfront over there. They just don’t seem to understand how important fishing is to a lot of people.”

Until now, fishing has been largely unregulated on the city-owned section of the waterfront, an area near the Beverly-Salem bridge whose neglect is symbolized by the former McDonald’s, which has been mostly empty since it closed two decades ago.

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