The Governor is calling for a disaster declaration for locals who catch and sell groundfish.The state says stocks of cod, haddock, and flounder have shrunk, and those that rely on those cold water fish for survival are in jeopardy. Still, some fishermen say they don’t want the money.
Mike Gambardella distributes fish throughout the Northeast from a pier in Stonington. He says the fishermen are upset because the government puts quotas on how many fish they can catch.
“We're not interested in free money. We want to work and earn our own money,” says Gambardella.
But Dave Simpson, of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, says there just aren’t enough groundfish left in the water.
“In some cases, that may be related to climate change; global warming for winter flounder in particular,” says Simpson.
Governor Malloy joined other New England governors in asking the Federal Commerce Secretary for a groundfish disaster declaration.
And, if Congress approves it, tens of millions of dollars could be fished out to the region, some of it coming to Connecticut.
“Our small state has taken actually a disproportionately large cut probably because there is a greater effect of climate change,” said Simpson.
But it's not just those that catch groundfish that are affected. As fisheries go after more abundant fish like sea bass and summer flounder, stocks of those fish will be depleted as well.
“There's concern among those in those fisheries that it's going to make their lives more difficult and be splitting the same dollars among a greater number of fisherman,” warns Simpson.
Gambardella says the government could hold onto its money, if it lifted regulations and allowed him to keep what he catches.
“There's plenty of fish out there. We're throwing them overboard… We don't need free money. We need the quota to be up to make us go catch fish,” said Gambardella.