Well, where do I start?

I guess the nation no longer cares for the fishing industry. Our government agencies have regulated us to the breaking point. Their data is unjust and from what fishermen see and what they are saying are on two ends of the spectrum.

You can set a net almost anywhere in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank and catch a white hake. But the assessment team that NOAA and NMFS has says there isn’t any hake, so they put unrealistic quota restrictions. So, that means boats with not enough quota have to purchase leased fish in hopes to catch other fish. But leasing hake quota is $1.50 a pound before you leave the dock. The average price to the boat for landing those fish is  $1.40, and that number is being generous. So, you lose money on catching a fish in hopes of catching another fish that lives in the same habitat.

The problem is that fishermen are not seeing a hake problem, but they are forced to fish as if there is. So, you’re already out $1.50 (per pound) for the hake before you ever catch the fish. That also means you haven’t even added in the time and fuel. At these prices you have to take away from another species’ prices to compensate.

Landings are down on flounders and monks. Why is that? Maybe it has something to do with the hake quota assessment. You can’t fish in the mud to catch dabs, grey sole and monks without catching a hake. You can’t go to the shoal water because of the risk of catching a codfish because of restrictions.


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Folks are forced to work the gravel and humps; I’m sure pollock landings are up and everything else is down. You have to leave fish in hopes of catching fish in hopes there is a market left. Those same hake that they say don’t exist.

So, that puts a strain on those markets due to filet houses and other facilities paying their help to sit around, and killing what market there was because there’s no steady supply. So, they make up the price by not paying the fishermen.

It’s happening across the board — the agendas being pushed through the White House and their agencies are strangling honest, hard-working, blue-collar fishermen. There wouldn’t be much of a budget if the government agencies couldn’t justify their jobs.


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Problem is, they are telling people it’s overfishing. Well let me be the one to tell you that’s a lie; there hasn’t been hardly a fleet left for quite some time now. I believe there are only 27 boats left in New England over 75 feet, and only half of them are trying to work.

To top it off you have $5.40 (per gallon) for fuel. That number is going to keep going up. Then they mention right whales. Well I haven’t laid eyes on one in over a decade, and the one I saw was nowhere near where we were allowed to even fish. But you have to stay with that story line or else that would give lobstermen ammo against the wind turbines. But they will allow the wind turbines a couple whale fatalities a year for the sake of a green agenda. We don’t drill and produce oil and gas for the sake of “green.” So, prices at the grocery store are going to keep rising.

Millions of dollars are spent on the fishing infrastructure, and thousands of hands and family incomes are tied to it. If you work the sea you are a steward — you don’t murder everything in your path. If you did you’d put yourself out of business and that’s just plain stupid.

The news talks of food shortages and kitchen table issues, but their agendas say otherwise. Everyone is afraid to lose their sliver of the pie, so they go along. 

If the government agencies and NOAA and the NMFS were told they were headed for the bread lines — like they are doing to everyone else who’s not employed by the state or government — do you really think they would keep it up? I’d bet not.


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Soon there will be real hardships coming, like nothing that anyone in our generations have seen. The chain that binds us will break. No product, no jobs. No auction, no auction workers. No filet house, no fish store. No truck drivers to deliver the product, no engineers to work on the vessels. And no fishermen.

But I bet the government agencies and state employees keep their jobs. Funny to think that a country, which is in the red, would pay salaries and insurances for management of something they put out of business. So, what would be the point?

Don’t need to regulate or manage something that no longer happens, but I bet they still do. In the while, we will talk of food shortages and loss of jobs. Families will lose their homes, vehicles, insurances — their way of life to push an unrealistic ideal.

Funny, most of those who regulate our industry have never stepped foot on the water. But because we need to create jobs to keep the ivory tower league at their position, we are willing to destroy thousands.

I’m not a fortune teller; I’m just a fisherman. I have no vested interest, other than it’s a job. My job employs thousands, and that keeps those lives turning. When the last fish is landed, it’s all over.

Men and women will not and should not go to sea and risk their lives for nothing. I truly wish people with any sense at all would stand up and push against this. But they’ve created a problem where there wasn’t one, and the chain that binds us all will break shortly.

What do you suppose the banks will do when there’s no income or payments being made by the millions, and the workers and working class can no longer pay their bills? What happens then — when that income loss hits the other industries and it all comes crashing down?

Why do they not allow the real fishermen who have spent a majority of their lives at sea make the assessments? Then what would hiring all the kids from colleges do if it wasn’t for the budget to hire them?

It’s time for folks to start screaming at the top of their lungs. My heart goes out to all who have a hand in the sea. And I pray nothing but the best for you all and your families.

Fish on, my family and friends.

Editor’s note: Jerry Leeman is a fishing vessel captain working out of New Bedford. He was featured in a story about private equity’s incursion into the New England fishery, which was co-published by The New Bedford Light and ProPublica.

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1 Comment

  1. Years ago, when I went to Newfoundland regularly, I saw the inshore fishery get destroyed by bureaucrats in Ottawa, 350 miles away who refused to limit the amounts of Capelin taken by factory ships from Russia and Japan. That fish supported the entire marine ecosystem, everything living fed on it, whales, sea birds and fish. Within a decade the inshore fishery, a vibrant way of life for generations of gill net fishermen, totally collapsed. Government works best when it’s involved and cooperative. On that, I agree with this gentleman.

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