FAIRHAVEN, Mass. -- September 3, 2012 -- A lifelong fisherman who suffered a stroke and can no longer work says he has been unable to sell his boat or his state fishing permit, even with interested buyers, because of state regulations.
Lawrence Derego, 60, wrested a living from the
sea as a commercial fisherman until a stroke on Jan. 1, 2008, paralyzed
his left side. Despite intensive rehab, Derego still has difficulty
maintaining his balance. He and his wife, Jane, a certified nursing
assistant, are struggling financially while their 40-foot lobster boat,
Seahorse, remains in storage at Fairhaven Shipyard.
"After it happened I had a man who wanted to
run the boat for me. But the Department of Marine Fisheries said it had
to be owner-operated," said Derego, who holds lobster and conch permits.
Derego had to wait six months to get on disability and a full year for
"It was tough with no money coming in. Our nest egg was gone," he said.
the price of lobster depressed, the conch, or channeled whelk, fishery
has now become lucrative. But selling his permit is not an option, he
said, because DMF rules currently prohibit the transfer of a license.
However Derego said that transferring his license would not add to the
number of permit holders and a moratorium on new permits has already
been in effect since 1989.
Conch catches have
increased sharply over the last six years, according to DMF figures,
which show more than 2 million pounds landed in 2010. That number is now
more than 3 million, leading to fears that the harvest is
"In May 2010 we had someone who
wanted to buy the permits, but they said that transfers were frozen,"
Derego said. DMF told him to get in the boat and go fishing, he said.
Derego, who first went fishing with his father when he was 6 years old,
said it is all he has ever done and he would still be out there if he
could do it.
"They said (his stroke
rehabilitation) would be six months to a year," his wife said. "We were
going to Sandwich three days a week for rehab trying to get him back.
But he still has no balance at all."
Deregos' plight became public recently when Scott Brown visited
Fairhaven to speak with a group of fishermen's wives. Jane Derego made
an emotional plea to the senator for help.
Department of Marine Fisheries responded to inquiries from The
Standard-Times through a spokesman, Reginald Zimmerman, and seemed to
offer some hope for a resolution.
Derego's current situation, we are currently reviewing a proposed rule,
introduced in May, which may allow for the transfer of the conch permit
along with the lobster permit," Zimmerman said in an email. "We look
forward to working with the Derego family in getting this important
Read the full story in the New Bedford Standard Times