John Bullard, the new regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service, heard more than two hours of comment last week from New Hampshire fishermen who said federal regulations threaten to eliminate the local industry.
The most recent crisis to challenge ground fishermen in New Hampshire is a closure planned for October and November as a result of a report that showed fishermen were not in compliance with regulations to deter harbor porpoises, according to the Union Leader.
But fishermen argued that the data are flawed, and instead of fighting the closure entirely, they have asked for it to be moved to February and March, when more harbor porpoises have historically been taken and the economic impact would not be as severe.
Bullard, who previously worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has made it a goal to rebuild trust with fishermen.
“What I am learning in my first five weeks on the job is that this situation seems a lot worse than it was in the ’90s,” the newspaper reported Bullard saying at the meeting. “And I don’t think there are any easy decisions in front of us. Harbor porpoises or any other decisions.”