Anglers oppose restriction on Massachusetts Bay access

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Anglers are rallying opposition before an impending vote by members of the New England Fisheries Management Council that could prohibit recreational and charter boats from bottom fishing in a popular 55-square-nautical-mile area of Stellwagen Bank in eastern Massachusetts Bay.

“If passed, this sweeping habitat amendment will be a business death sentence for scores of charter boat owners,” Stellwagen Bank Charter Boat Association president Charlie Wade said in a statement. “An even more dramatic and far-reaching result — which isn’t as obvious or immediate — is the impact on the entire region’s economy. And if people get out of the habit of coming here to fish, it will affect all of us for many years to come.”

The Fisheries Management Board is scheduled to vote during its meeting Feb. 25-26 in Danvers, Mass.

“I wish I knew,” Wade told Trade Only Today of how he expects the council to vote. “I’ve been told, however, that the council has received hundreds of letters in opposition of any recommendation that would include the closure. And I know the Recreational Advisory Panel, which advises the council on issues that impact private recreational and charter and headboat anglers, is very much against the closure. Based on that, I can say I’m guardedly optimistic.”

Still, Wade and the Stellwagen Bank Charter Boat Association, a Marshfield, Mass.-based organization of 130 Coast Guard-licensed captains and mates operating on Stellwagen Bank and the western Gulf of Maine, seeks to preserve the fishing rights of recreational and for-hire fishing interests.

“In effect, this vote could unfairly deny public access to charter boat owners and all private boaters and fishermen who have fished there for over a century,” Wade said. “When April arrives, charter boat owners have been off the water for nearly six months due to an annual seasonal closure. Our customers are eager to return to fish for cod and haddock. Closing this area will force us further offshore, up to 30 nautical miles one way, which in April can be a real safety concern, not to mention the additional fuel costs.”


6 comments on “Anglers oppose restriction on Massachusetts Bay access

  1. Bryon Kass

    Any who recommended this closure? The regulation nation is becoming a real problem for the people. I put the blame on Democrats who are forever pushing their will on us. I am in the engine business and the new emissions rules are starting this year which is putting a damper not only on engine sales (higher prices) but availability.

  2. Tim Barber

    New England Fisheries Management Council should ban groundfish gilnets entirely in that area first before restricting rec fishing.

  3. Tom T

    Looks like the fight between the commercial halibut and charters/sport fish on the west coast. The commercials run the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) and has been successful in running the charters and sport fishing out of business.

  4. Ned

    There are no cod left on the grand banks why would you want any in Massachusetts? I would suggest to those who want to keep unrestricted fishing read “The Sixth Extinction”.

  5. Armand Tetreault

    Wow taking the extreme position only destroys it for all. Allowing the commercial “Stock Shares” are what got us into this mess to begin with so take measures to address what you screwed up before penalizing those who stay within the law. We have shown that we can improve the fishery with reason and keep it open. So let’s make the right choice and delete this foolish amendment.

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