Bring Back the Fish, Owner-operators and Fairness are Key

James ‘Howdy’ Houghton
Bar Harbor, ME

Note: This letter was addressed to New England fisheries decision-makers regarding the fleet diversity Amendment 18. We thank everyone like Howdy, who submitted comments (click to see more support). Please continue checking in as we work together toward a more diverse fleet and a healthier ocean.

To the New England Fisheries Management Council,

I oppose the no-action alternative option under A18 because the loss of fleet diversity is a major problem facing the New England fleet. I live in Bar Harbor Maine which had a thriving groundfish fleet throughout the 80’s that gradually diminished in the 90’s because the local stocks dried up and the fishermen primarily fished locally.

Boats here had little history after the control date in 1996 and today most fish available in Bar Harbor comes from out of state, none from east of the Penobscot river, and not much from Port Clyde either. If management continues on it’s present path it is highly unlikely we will ever again see any amount of fish landed in eastern Maine, due to lack of access and lack of seasonal stocks. I can’t imagine the local stocks replenishing while pulse fishing by absentee owner vessels, landing in fewer ports continue to dominate the fishery and the management strategies.

I recommend that the Council consider owner-operator incentives and equitable geographic distribution of stocks and landings in Amendment 18. Without these fresh local fish there will never again be available any quantity on most of the Maine coast. Our only supply will be commodity sources from a very few large ports dominated by ‘roving bandits’ whose owners are not even aboard.

Throughout the 70’s and 80’s I caught groundfish seasonally primarily out of Bar Harbor. Much of the fish landed here was cut at a fish market a few blocks from the Bar Harbor town pier and sold to the public and our many restaurants.

James ‘Howdy’ Houghton
Bar Harbor, ME

I recommend you listen to Wendell Berry and pay close attention to his references to “Boomer and Stickers”.

Hear other Maine fishermen testify 
during the A18 scoping process.