Monday, September 20, 2010

Here is the third and final part of my interview with Joe Orlando owner operator of the f/v Padre Pio. (f/v stands for "fishing vessel" in case you were wondering.) Though Joe does not catch fish for CAFC (yet!) He is very much typical of the fishermen we work with. He is a dayboat fisherman - he goes out and comes bak in the same day for the most part. His vessel is a small dragger, which is the predominate gear choice for fishermen out of Gloucester. He has been fishing for at least two decades and has seen everything from a fishery in decline to the current state of the fishery which is nearing its target goals to be considered 'rebuilt'.

Several things stand out for me from my talk with Joe. One is the amazing amount of regulation New England fishermen face. Not only do fishermen have to tell the government when they are going fishing, but they may have to bring a government employee on board to monitor everything from gear and safety to the size and composition of their catch, they are digitally tracked via satellite, and when they get back to port there could be another government employee waiting at the dockside to observe unloading.

But all that is just the tip of the iceberg. When they are out fishing they have strict limits on what gear they can use, where they can fish, closed areas, Coast Guard enforcement and State Environmental Police.

As if that were not enough, our fishermen are almost all independent businessmen and women. They have to figure out when and where to fish amidst the regulations so that they can make a living. Its a daunting task, and one that unfortunately not too many younger people are choosing as a way to make a living.

At one of our recent CAFC weekly meetings a bunch of us were talking about how much people like to watch fishing boats unload. I know for myself I can stand there and watch boats and fishermen for hours. Fishing has always had a certain romance about it; men heading out to sea to battle the wind and waves to bring back seafood. Their boats color our harbors, and their tales color our history.

When you hear Joe talk about the regulatory environment he works in, it is hard to see the romance of the job. Fishermen in New England are no longer battling just the seas and the fish.

In the coming weeks we'll move away from regulations and get into more details about the fishing vessels we use, how CAFC works with fishermen and shore-side operations and finally hopefully we can talk more about the fish we are eating. Now for more Joe:

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