April 19, 2017 — Fishing regulators have started changing the way the East Coast scallop fishery is managed, with an eye toward avoiding more conflicts between small- and big-boat fishermen.
The New England Fishery Management Council decided to initiate changes Tuesday. Government fishing regulators use different rules for different classes of boats that work the same areas. Recently, a class mostly made up of smaller boats has been in conflict with bigger boats in the northern Gulf of Maine.
The management council says there is a “critical need to initiate surveys and develop additional tools to better manage the area.” It also says the new rules could include limiting some boats from fishing in the area until the scallop population can be more accurately determined.
Crafting new rules will likely take months, and they might not be finished before next year’s scallop season begins in April.
“The process was started, but now the real work begins,” said Togue Brawn, who runs a scallop business called Downeast Dayboat and has advocated for small-boat fishermen.