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Fishermen, scientists share common goals, but need funding ballast

For many of us who have worked for years as fishermen, biologists, and fisheries advocates, the article “Another blow for struggling fishermen” (Page A1, Aug. 5) was disappointing. The tone and balance of the story was frustrating but familiar, yet again characterizing fishermen as a monolithic, rapacious group at odds with any and all forms of regulation. The story fails to mention the many fishermen who work on collaborative research projects with scientists in the name of improving catch data, and who work to build a deeper understanding of the fishery’s relationship with the Gulf of Maine ecosystem as a whole.

In addition, the story paints a one-sided picture of the fisherman-observer relationship, which is not all fraught with threats and peril. Many from both camps agree with one another that we need more transparency in data collection, not less.

We believe the observer program should be a funding priority for the federal government. If fishermen are forced to pay for their own observers, it is the small and mid-scale owner-operators who would suffer the most.

Stephen Welch
Angela Sanfilippo
Les Kaufman

Welch is a commercial fisherman, Sanfilippo is president of the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association, and Kaufman is professor of biology at the Boston University Marine Program.