New dogfish rules hinder New England fishermen

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Environmentalist efforts to stop some New England fishermen from catching dogfish, slicing off their fins and throwing them into the water still alive are affecting fishermen who catch them and use all of the animal’s parts.

That’s according to a report in the Boston Globe, which says new rules are hurting fishermen who catch the fish for meat and remove the fins later.

Bans in several states, which are in various stages of proposal or passage, do not distinguish between the methods used for obtaining fins, and local fishermen say that if they can’t sell those, the dogfish isn’t profitable.

“We agree. ... We don’t want sharks being killed only for their fins, but we aren’t doing that,” Greg Walinski told the Globe. “Still, if we can’t sell the fins, we’d be done — there is such a fine margin to make money on dogfish.”

Click here for the full report.

Meanwhile, John Bullard, the new regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service, heard more than two hours of comment last week from New Hampshire fishermen who said federal regulations threaten to eliminate the local industry.

The most recent crisis to challenge ground fishermen in New Hampshire is a closure planned for October and November as a result of a report that showed fishermen were not in compliance with regulations to deter harbor porpoises, according to the Union Leader.

But fishermen argued that the data are flawed, and instead of fighting the closure entirely, they have asked for it to be moved to February and March, when more harbor porpoises have historically been taken and the economic impact would not be as severe.

Bullard, who previously worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has made it a goal to rebuild trust with fishermen.

“What I am learning in my first five weeks on the job is that this situation seems a lot worse than it was in the ’90s,” the newspaper reported Bullard saying at the meeting. “And I don’t think there are any easy decisions in front of us. Harbor porpoises or any other decisions.”

Click here for that full report.