Maine Fishermen Voice Concerns to Federal Fisheries Official
Issues plaguing Maine’s fishing industry were the topic of discussion at a meeting in Ellsworth, Thursday night.The top federal fisheries official in the northeast stopped in the city as part of a series of listening sessions he’s launched throughout the region.John Bullard became the NOAA Fisheries Service’s new regional administrator this month, and has been spending his weeks in office traveling to states like New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maine. Bullard said he wanted to tour the region to address what he called a crisis in New England ground fishing. “People’s livelihoods are at stake. I need to know how should the federal government respond, how should NOAA Fisheries respond, and I’m getting lots of good ideas. I’m also getting a human understanding of the impact of this,” he said.An open floor discussion allowed the approximately 20 attendees to voice their concerns to Bullard. Lobster fisherman, Joshua Miller, said he is considering pursuing ground fishing, but is worried about the low stock of fish in the state.”Guys aren’t catching very many fish. That’s the number one problem. The problem I think for small boat guys is, or people who are involved in multi-fisheries who don’t have a tremendous amount of time, is there’s so many regulations and there’s expenses that go with those regulations, too,” said Miller.Bullard said he’ll take the concerns back with him to his office in Massachusetts where he and his staff will try and come up with solutions.Right now, they’re considering ideas like getting fisherman access to areas with more plentiful fish species.He also said members of congress have asked his office to consider a disaster declaration to get federal funding to struggling fisheries.