PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire (NECN) - Facing severe cuts to catch limits on cod, New England fishermen are struggling to stay afloat. New Hampshire's small fleet has been hit especially hard.
Just a few years ago there were more than twenty ground fishermen in the state. Now, according to one fishermen, there
are just seven. Jay Driscoll who fishes out of Rye says, "these seven that are still in business are
just one blown motor away from losing everything."
New Hampshire fishermen were looking for a sympathetic ear
from Senator Jeanne Shaheen as they gathered at the Portsmouth
Pier Thursday morning.
NOAA, the agency that regulates fishing in the U.S. cut cod catch limits by 78%. Fishermen told the Senator it's almost impossible for them to follow the complex and restrictive regulations set forth by NOAA and the result is an industry in crisis.
150 million dollars in federal relief for fishermen passed the
senate last year, but was blocked by the house. Senator Shaheen says the money is back in appropriations and hopes it has a better chance of passing the house this time around.
With no easy answers, some fishermen are getting creative.
New Hampshire Community Seafood is a cooperative that allows fishermen to deliver their catch directly to consumers. Fish eaters have to expand their horizons to species other than cod, like dogfish and redfish.
One fishermen said unless you help the fleet now, when the cod
stocks do come back no one will be left to harvest them.