Where is New England's next generation of fishermen?

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Fishing has long been a vital part of New England's economy and character, but few young people are following their fathers and grandfathers to work at sea.

Fishermen say fewer young people are becoming fishing boat captains because of years of onerous regulations and the rising six-figure cost of permits, according to a report by The Associated Press.

Since 2000, the median age of Massachusetts holders of commercial fishing permits - that is, boat owners and owner-captains - has risen from 46 to nearly 51, according to the state Division of Marine Fisheries.

Pat Kurkul, the Northeast regional administrator for the fisheries service, said she believes the industry is still a draw to young people and that the current rebuilding plan will ensure the industry is attractive to newcomers for years to come.

"We anticipate that rebuilt fish stocks will be able to generate three times the current catch, providing plenty of economic incentive for new fishermen to get into the fishery," she said.

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