, Gloucester, MA

June 25, 2013

Letter: Facing harsh realities in fishing industry

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

The juxtaposition of two letters regarding Gloucester’s fishing industry in the June 20 edition of the Times is truly ironic.

Attorney Joseph Orlando’s scathing accusations against Congressman Markey in particular and environmentalists in general was followed immediately by Dr. John Crawford’s thoughtful explanations:

“Science and the law support the current catch limits,” Dr. Crawford wrote. “Undoing them would make an already bad situation even worse. New England’s best captains were unable to find enough cod to fill their quota for the last fishing season despite good prices and strong demand. On Georges Bank, for example, fisherman landed barely more than a third of their quota; Gulf of Maine fisherman caught about 60 percent of their quota.”

There may be more than one explanation for this occurrence, but surely a main reason is due to global warming and climate change that Mr. Orlando would probably deny.

The oceans are warming and the prey on which predator fish feed are moving to cooler waters. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Antarctic, where warmer Southern Ocean waters mean less krill, the main food source for penguins and whales. Result? Declining penguin populations and fewer whales as well.

I love the sea. As a matter of fact, I am at sea close to half the year, as I work on cruise ships. I love the fishermen and women who work so hard, often in dangerous conditions, to provide the seafood I also love. But, as Kenny Rogers’ famous lyrics say: “You gotta know when to hold’em ... know when to fold’em.”

For more than 100 years,New England cities have had to deal with declining industries — one need look no further than Lowell and Lawrence, whose shoe and textiles industries were lost to outsourcing long ago, not to China or Vietnam but to southern U.S. states like the Carolinas.

The folks who lived there did not roll over and die....they found other ways to earn money that put bread on their tables. Hard to do, yes, but necessary at times.

Gloucester and Cape Ann are blessed with beautiful locations on Atlantic waters. It is time for us to stop the moaning and groaning, time to put our shoulders to the wheel and find new ways to make our communities great.

Our men, our women and our families are second to none in the world. There is no reason that Gloucester, America’s oldest fishing port, cannot become one of America’s most sought-out tourist attractions. Cities like Newburyport have done it, and so can we, ‘cause, know what?

As long as the oceans keep getting warmer, most of those fish are not coming back.