CT Fishermen Hit Hard by New Regulations

Local fishermen say new government regulations may "devastate" the already troubled industry

A series of regulations restricting the amount of fish caught by commercial fishing operations, have some in the industry bracing for the worst. The target of the regulations are groundfishing which includes haddock, cod, red fish, and flounder. Quota systems are in place to make sure any individual species isn't over fished, but Connecticut fishermen say new restrictions are unfair and unnecessary.

An interim rule restricts the number of days commercial fishermen can stay at sea by up to 18 percent. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) put the new regulations into effect on May 1. They say it will cost the industry about 9 percent of its yearly revenue. Many fishermen, however, dispute this figure and say the impact would be greater.

The regulations are designed to help bolster existing population of fish off the New England coast following years of overfishing. At a meeting Wednesday in Milford, local fishermen said the fish populations are recovering and the numbers the government is using are wrong.

Local fishermen say these drastic steps aren't needed to replenish fish offshore and that the results would be damaging to the industry.

Mike Gamberdella, who owns a fish wholesale business in Stonington, said these regulations are "devastating." Gamberdella says it's not just the fishermen who are going to be hit hard by these regulations, "It's not just us or the fishermen. It's 10 to 15 hands before a family is getting fed." 

Bobby Guzzo, a local fishermen from North Stonington, says the fish are indeed returning to the New England coast thanks to replenishing efforts in recent years. With the new restrictions in place, he doesn't think he'll be able to stay in business, "these regulations are too harch and too much at once. The fish are coming back but we need more time."

Wednesday, local fishermen met with representatives from and Chris Dodd's office along with Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Rep. John Larson, and Rep. Joe Courtney, in an attempt to get this rule repealed. Jenny Contois, District Director for Rep. Joe Courtney said, "there's a lot of work to do. This is a priority for congressman Courtney." 

The dozen fishermen who showed up to the meeting said they're hopeful something can be done but say if nothing happens soon they'll be out of business.

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