GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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January 29, 2014

Fishing stakeholders' focus shifts from rules to survival

Paul J. Diodati knew he was venturing into something of a maelstrom when he traveled to Gloucester on Monday night to listen to the concerns of local fishermen and stakeholders, while offering some fashion of a state of the state fisheries assessment at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries offices on Emerson Avenue.

“Gloucester is the epicenter of the hardworking groundfish fleet,” Diodati said after the meeting, which was attended by about 40 fishermen, as well as state Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante. “It’s also the center of the independent nature that comes from being a fishermen. This is where the family tradition of fishing comes from.”

But Diodati noticed a difference Monday night within the ranks of Gloucester stakeholders: The proximity to the true depths of the crisis seems to have stripped away the lingering communal desire to stay mired in an unceasing debate over the evil quality of federal regulations and propelled local stakeholders to a new and singular focus on developing a survival plan for the industry before it’s too late.

“There wasn’t really any discussion on how bad the regulations have been,” Diodati said in a follow-up interview yesterday. “They’re so far beyond that. They’re at the point of how are we going to survive and who will remain and who can be healed.”

Diodati and the elected officials in attendance Monday night received detailed suggestions from the stakeholders — especially fishermen — during the two-hour meeting. Shoreside stakeholders, such as Ann Molloy from Neptune’s Harvest, also spoke about the importance of including portside, fishing-related businesses in the disbursement formula.

“We’re hurting, too,” said Molloy, whose Fort-based company uses what’s left of fish, once the fillets are removed, to make fertilizers.

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