Groundfishermen at the Fishing Fleet in Stonington, those who catch flounder and a dozen other bottom feeding fish, fear federal regulators are trying to sink their livelihood by mandating more regulations.
"We don't need somebody on our back every day to watch what we do. Now they want to put cameras on the boat,” said Bob Guzzo, of Southern New England Fisherman & Lobsterman’s Association.
Guzzo has been fishing the region for nearly four decades.
He said the New England Fishery Management Council wants to increase at-sea monitoring of groundfish, in order to verify what they catch and release.
Guzzo said the added cost of paying someone to monitor what happens on the boat, or even watch remotely by camera, doesn't help them or the industry but only increases the cost of doing business.
According to preliminary numbers put together by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, at-sea monitors would cost $31,620 annually per vessel or $60,000 to monitor via cameras, not including cost and maintenance every year.
"There's no need. It’s a lot of wasted time and effort for a little bit of fish that we're allowed to bring in,” Guzzo said.
During the next two weeks, Guzzo is allowed to bring in 500 pounds of fluke and get paid $4 per pound, while retailers will charge $14 per pound.
He said the market won't support added pricing for fresh fish.
"The real loser is the consumer,” Guzzo said.
He added that while fishermen work off real-time current data, he said the federal council that regulates them uses data that's more than a decade old.
"They're not scientists. I mean we're more of a scientist than them. We can tell you what we catch. You can see what we catch and see what we bring in,” Guzzo said.
The New England Fisheries Management Council has scheduled one of six meetings on the Groundfishing Amendment. There will be one held at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
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