NARRAGANSETT–The economic downturn has affected many towns and cities around the nation, yet none as pronouncedly as the fishing communities in the New England area. Point Judith is one of them.
The U.S Economic Development Administration has selected Point Judith, among six other New England fishing ports, for a two and a half-day analysis of the specific issues concerning the community. The EDA examined a number of fishery data from the fishing ports, including the groundfish landing revenues and the percentage of groundfish landed at a port compared to state totals.
“”I am very pleased that Point Judith has been chosen for this assessment and encouraged by the EDA taking a step to find solutions for the economic challenges facing our fishermen,” said Congressman James Langevin.
“The actual stories from the fishing community are pretty horrific,” said Richard L. Fuka, president of the RI Fishermen’s Alliance. “[Fishermen] are behind on home mortgage payments, and the business which local stores would have from fishermen is just not there.”
Point Judith, along with the larger fishing ports of Gloucester and New Bedford, MA, has been significantly hindered by the National Marine Fisheries Service’s institution of a new regulatory framework for the amount of groundfish a port is allowed to haul in. The yearly Total Allowable Catches quota has been reduced to a much lower level than in previous years. Fishermen are thus finding it difficult to produce sustainable revenues.
Fuka is also concerned with the amount of lobbying influence large NGOs such as the Environmental Defense Fund exert over federal agencies in order to prevent fishermen from using even well stocked fisheries.
“[The EDF] is comfortable with the stocks as they are,” he said. “They don’t want fishermen to become too profitable and overfish. We need to make jobs, not consolidate them because our state can’t handle that.”
“We have enough fish in the sea so that fishermen can be successful,” Fuka continued. “Fishermen have reacted well to regulations and management. We are proud of our livelihood and don’t want to fish the last fish. We want to preserve the fisheries for the next generation too.”
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