Evolution of Fishing Explored

By Barbara Taormina, Gloucester Daily Times – September 2000 No. 215


For years, Corrado Buccheri, who owns an auto body shop, has supplied the Gloucester fleet with fishing gear, advice and plenty of moral support.

Yesterday, at the seventh annual Fisheries Forum, Buccheri was recognized for those efforts with the Gloucester Award given to a local business that engages in fisheries-related commerce.

While accepting the award, Buccheri said he had often been asked why he has worked so hard for the fishing industry when he has his own business and his own large family of four children to keep him busy.

For Blucher, it’s personal.

“If you are not an immigrant, you never know what it means to leave your homeland to work to establish yourself in a new community,” he said.  “I thought if fishing stayed strong in Gloucester, my four children wouldn’t have to move away.”

Yesterday’s Fisheries Forum was all about the future of the fishing industry and how new ideas and technologies can ensure the local fleet will continue to survive and grow.

Organized by Ann-Margaret Ferrante, who was described by state Sen. Bruce Tarr as the finest fishing industry advocate in these United States, the forum highlighted new research ad catch reporting methods that could help local fishermen achieve the goal of a sustainable fishery.

Meanwhile, keynote speaker Penny Dalton, head of the National Marine Fisheries Service, repeated her message that fishermen, scientists and managers must work together toward the same goals.

Throughout the day, Ferrante stressed that new technologies could be future tools that will help fishermen harvest stocks more efficiently and profitably.

“We are finally bringing technology into the fishing industry — we are moving up to speed  — moving up to date,” she said.

And while some of the new methods featured at the forum may still be a stretch for Gloucester’s small, family-based fleet, many who attended yesterday’s talks seemed impressed with how much is now possible.

Members from a team from the School of Marine Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth showed how underwater cameras could survey scallop beds on Georges Bank.

With actual pictures in hand, managers can plan how best to rotate scallop fishing effort to allow stocks to regenerate to their fullest potential.

The same team is also i the midst of an extensive cod tagging program that recently gained $200,000 in funding from the state.

According to former fisherman Robert MacKinnon, who is helping direct the program, fishermen will tag 50,000 fish with special electronic monitors that will yield information about how far they travel, water temperature and other factors that may help answer questions about the size and recovery of Gulf of Maine cod stocks.

An electronic catch report system that allows fishermen to enter their daily catches into a computer network  was presented by the Groundfish Forum of Seattle, Washington.  Fishermen are able to refer to the computer diagrams to avoid areas thick with types of fish managed by strict quotas.  The information allows them to avoid bycatch of those species and to extend the fishing season for types of fish they are allowed to harvest.

The Groundfish Forum is also at work on a study that will eventually show dragger gear does not have a significant effect on several types of ocean bottom.

From the shore side, Barry Sullivan, financial manager of the Gloucester Seafood Display Auction, described how technology will help fishermen earn more for their fish.

The auction, which was bought by Global Food Exchange last July, is scheduled to go on a line within the upcoming months.

“We will be able to bring our product to a much larger marketplace,” said Sullivan, who added that members of the auction system will now be able to buy fish from their homes and offices.

The wider market will mean greater competition an better prices for fishermen.

With all of those advances offering new possibilities, Dalton turned back to the more fundamental issue of cooperation between regulators and fishermen.

“The 2,600 men and women of the fisheries service cannot build a sustainable fishery alone,” she said.  “I sense that he industry is more willing and ready to work with NOAA Fisheries and NOAA Fisheries is ready to work with the fishing industry.”

Dalton stressed the importance of the cooperative research programs, which have $15 million in federal funding for the upcoming year.

Among the projects slated for the cooperative research program are a cod-tagging program, a groundfish study with an electronic reporting system an bycatch reduction projects.

Awards

Forum organizers presented the Seattle Groundfish Forum an award for its work on innovations in the fishing industry.

But technology was not the only thing honored yesterday.

Capt. Russell Sherman received the Man-at-the-Wheel award for his work representing other fishermen.

“I so much appreciate the last 30 years of my life that I’ve been here and my proud association with the men and women in the fishing industry in Gloucester,” said Sherman.

And Louis Linquata, chairman of the Gloucester Fisheries Commission, received the Helmsman Award for dedication and leadership on fisheries issues.

It was an emotional moment for Linquata, who told the audience he came from tow great fishing families in Gloucester.
“That’s why I became the person I am – a person who wants to stay and help the fishing industry,” Linquata said.  “Let it be strong, let it go on — let fishing be part of our community forever.”