Anyone visiting the Gloucester waterfront these days can’t help but notice the lack of commercial fishing boat arrivals and departures and the slow pace of commerce in the wake of this year’s government-fueled commercial fishery “disaster.”
But they can’t see the dire financial straits confronting Gloucester residents Everett and Jenice Sawyer, whose tale was spotlighted so powerfully in Sean Horgan’s Page 1 Wednesday Times story (“Collateral damage”) on the plight of longtime fishing crew members who are out of work, and in the Sawyers’ case, on the verge of being out of their home.
And the obstacles confronting the Sawyers should serve as a powerful reminder of the true scope of this avoidable and correctable economic collapse, which extends far beyond the boats and the fishermen. Indeed, we also now see landlords losing out on rent, businesses that rely in fishermen and their boats in danger of sinking, waterfront property owners who want to sell, but can’t, and even fishermen who are sadly willing to give up and sell their vessels, but can’t get a nibble from any potential buyers.
Everett Sawyer sadly noted that any federal or state aid to fishermen and related businesses might not even reach him, given the layoffs of crew members across the industry. But his plight, and the extended impact on many other residents and businesses across the city cries out for government aid. And that need is now — for aid and/or the lifting of NOAA’s arbitrary limits, not “low-interest loans” for which fishermen are likely not eligible, and which they cannot repay.
Are our lawmakers truly listening?