The 40 active groundfishermen who are part of Northeast Fishery Sector (NEFS) III out of Gloucester, MA, have been facing a challenging transition since the fishing year began in May. Low sector allocations and a new sector management process have been difficult, but the new system is also presenting opportunities to work together in innovative ways.
GMRI works with managers and board members of the 12 Northeast Fishery Sectors, which were sponsored in part by the Northeast Seafood Coalition. They meet regularly to share resources and solve problems.
Nick Brancaleone, Manager of NEFS III, has seen how collaborative efforts can make sector management more effective.
"I was talking with a fisherman who was on the brink of going over his harvest share of a certain 'choke' species. Another sector member who heard about it offered some of his own share at no cost to cover the deficit. It's new collaborative relationships like this that are one of the most interesting outcomes of the new system so far. Every member of the sector is accountable to the others. Another example is discard rates - with At-Sea Observer coverage at 38 percent, the 'in-season' rates are calculated based on observed trips. As a result, each fisherman is responsible for fishing cleanly. Everyone is affected."