Charlie Baker Calls on Governor Patrick to Help MA Fishing Industry

I left work 4 hours early yesterday in order to join Charlie Baker and a packed room of fishermen at New Bedford’s Waterfront Grille on the wharf.  Charlie, joined by State Senator Bruce Tarr of Gloucester & State Representative George Peterson of Grafton.  Tarr represents, like New Bedford, one of the Commonwealth’s great seaports & Peterson spent several years employed as a commercial fisherman.  

The three Republicans spent the afternoon not only speaking with but listening to dozens and dozens of New Bedford fishermen.  Charlie discussed the leter that he sent to Governor Deval Patrick outlining action that needs to be taken in order to help save and preserve our state’s vital fishing industry.

New Bedford is America’s #1 seaport in terms of the value of catch landed.  Charlie Baker has made several trips to New Bedford and spent hours consulting with our fishing industry’s leaders: boat owners, captains & crew.  For many of those visits & much of those hours, I have been with Charlie Baker.  I come from a long line of fishermen on both sides of my family.  When I was but days old, I was propped up on the bow of my paternal grandfather’s boat.  My father retired from the fishing industry as a truck driver daily making the trip to Fulton Fish Market in NYC & then down down to Philly. Prior to that he worked at a fish house in Clark’s Cove in New Bedford.  My maternal grandfather, Ole S. Olsen, was the captain of a New Bedford scalloper the F/V Jane & Ursula.  Grandpa Olsen came from a long line of Norwegian fishermen from the village of Skudessnesshaven on the island of Karmoy in Norway.  He died on June 14, 1973 of a heart attack aboard his ship.  My grandfather was declared deceased the following his day.  Heck, his first mate disobeyed the Coast Guard orders to sail into NY insisting “the captain goes home with his ship!”  Ole S. Olsen has his name is inscribed upon the cenotaphs that hang inside New Bedford’s Seaman’s Bethel for those lost out at sea.  Grandpa Olsen’s name is also carved into a memorial in Karmoy for the same reasons.  I was born June 15, 1978 and as such, I never met my maternal grandfather.  Nonetheless, the call to the sea & the vocation for that Viking matters to me.  

Yes, the fishing industry matters to the SouthCoast.  It is not only crucial to Greater New Bedford but it matters to the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The fishing industry matters to me and my family.  The fishing industry matters to the Massachusetts Republican Party – Bruce Tarr & George Peterson.  Finally, the fishing industry matters to Charlie Baker.  This is just one of the many reasons why I support Charlie Baker for Governor!                      


Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker today urged Governor Deval Patrick to take immediate action to alleviate the financial struggles of Massachusetts fishermen.

In a letter to Patrick, Baker wrote, “Year after year, the groundfish and scallop industries in Massachusetts have suffered under the weight of arbitrary and overly restrictive regulations that have put their future at risk.  Unfortunately, new regulations that go into effect in the spring of 2010 will have a devastating impact on our state’s economy.”  

These new regulations include cutting the days at sea for the scallop industry and changing the groundfish industry from a days-at-sea system to a catch-share system.  These changes could result in losses of over $1 billion for the fishing industry.

“Imposing burdensome new regulations that have no scientific basis on one of our state’s top industries is exactly the wrong thing to be doing in a recession,” Baker said today.  “The commercial fishing industry is on the brink of an economic disaster and many Massachusetts fishermen are in danger of losing their livelihoods.  It is imperative that the state act now, before these damaging regulations go into effect.  Governor Patrick needs to step up and show some leadership on this critical issue.”

Baker made the announcement in New Bedford, accompanied by dozens of commercial fishing boat captains.  His letter urges Governor Patrick to call for a moratorium on the new fishing rules, advocate for changes to the federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, commission a scientific study of the groundfish, and appoint commercial fishing representatives to the New England Fishery Management Council.

State Senator Bruce Tarr, whose district includes Gloucester, joined Baker in urging immediate action by the Governor.  “Massachusetts fishermen and their families are already hurting,” he said, “and these regulations will make a bad situation even worse.  I applaud Charlie for recognizing the importance of this industry to the Massachusetts economy and for bringing attention to this urgent issue.”

Ron Smolowitz, head of the Fisheries Survival Fund, applauded Baker’s efforts.  “Unlike some politicians, Charlie Baker has taken the time to listen to us and understand our concerns and now he’s actually doing something about it,” he said.  “These government regulations will hurt our ability to make a living for our families.  The government should be working for us, not against us, and Charlie gets that.”

Baker said, “These new regulations could put many of our state’s scallop and groundfish fishermen out of business.  Once these jobs are lost, they are never coming back.  If I were governor, I’d be doing everything in my power to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

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