Study Says 300 Jobs, $12 Million Lost in Sector IX Shutdown
According to a new study, an estimated 300 jobs have been lost due to NOAA's decision to shut down groundfishing in Sector IX.
On November 20 of last year, the organization decided to suspend operations in the sector, which is mostly comprised of boats from the fleet of Carlos Rafael, the convicted "Codfather" sent to federal prison for his overfishing scheme. NOAA Regional Administrator John Bullard has said the shutdown was necessary, as the organization and the sector try to figure out the extent to which Rafael's scheme depleted fish stocks.
Dr. Dan Georgianna, a professor at SMAST with a Ph.D. in economics, recently conducted the study to determine the economic impact the shutdown was having in New Bedford and beyond within its first 30 days.
"We found there was about $12 million over the month of November that was lost to the port, which was about $500,000 per day for the days they were actually fishing," said Georgianna.
Georgianna said according to the model he used, that means an estimated 300 jobs were lost to the shutdown. Those jobs alone accounted for $5.7 million of his $12 million loss projection.
"Roughly half (of the lost jobs) are in New Bedford," he told WBSM News. "Half are fishermen and shoreside workers, and the other half are in restaurants and so on, throughout the Northeast."
Georgianna said he was surprised by the extent of the economic damage caused by the shutdown of Sector IX.
"I was surprised by the extent of it, to tell you the truth," he said. "If you think about it, the fishermen buy the supplies, the supply companies pay people and they spend money and so on. so it's a network that's spread out."
"I'm always surprised at how small the actual fishing employment is, but then how large the effect of fishing is on this area, because it really is a major employer," he said. "It goes a long way. The port supports the city, and a shutdown of part of the port's activities have a large effect on this area, and a large effect throughout the Northeast."
Georgianna said he conducted the study for free.
"Somebody on (Mayor Jon Mitchell's) staff asked me," he said. "It's not part of my job. I did it pro bono for the city, really. I think there was a loss to the city from shutting down the boats from fishing, and we should know how much that is."
Georgianna said that, as an economist, he feels NOAA should have carefully weighed the "costs and benefits" of their actions.
"The effects of any decision on other people, who are not necessarily involved in the decision, is an important consideration," he said. "I hope (the study) is used to that people realize what the cost of the action is, and hopefully it'll have some effect on changing the action. I hope the boats, sooner or later, can go out fishing again."