Council Votes for Fishing Crisis Summit; Gomes Calls Out Senators
NEW BEDFORD — Concerns of local fisherman have been voiced in recent weeks about the restrictions put on the industry relative to the conviction of “Codfather” Carlos Rafael and the subsequent closing of Sector IX to commercial fishing, which has seen the docking of multiple ground fishing boats and hindered business on the port.
On Thursday night, the City Council unanimously passed a motion that will request Mayor Jon Mitchell, Congressman Bill Keating, Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and the local State Legislative Delegation to form and hold an emergency summit in New Bedford to address the concerns of the fishing industry.
The motion, penned by City Councillor At-Large Brian Gomes, further states that “the urgency of this summit being called is needed now and for the future of the fishing industry and what it means to the jobs and the economic stimulus of the waterfront.”
Councillor Gomes took his time calling out the local state delegation and U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey for their failure to address or even speak about the issue. Gomes excluded Congressman Bill Keating from his criticism, saying that Keating called him immediately after hearing his concerns about the fishing industry.
“I want Senator Markey and Warren to be heard on this issue, they have not been heard on this issue and if there's something to say or something that you're doing then let us know,” Gomes said in a message directed at the two U.S. Senators. “Right now we need you to straighten out this matter down here because on a daily basis we are losing and the people of this city are losing.”
Nearly 700 people in the industry have been unable to work because of the Sector IX closings, and Gomes says that several business owners along the waterfront have told him that they're losing money, what he estimates is a collective loss of roughly $300,000 per day, or $9,000,000 per month, of revenue for the port.
“Washington has been dead to this issue and we're looking to have a summit here where we bring Washington to the City of New Bedford,” Gomes continued. “They'd tour the area, they'd see the hurt, and they'd hear from the people that it's mostly affecting and come to some resolution on this issue.”
The Council also unanimously voted to add to the motion that a letter be sent to U.S. President Donald Trump. Gomes requested the letter to Trump be added while the motion was being heard, arguing that the issue “needs attention.”
The summit will also invite a long list of industry experts for input, if necessary. It lists NOAA Director RDML Timothy Gallaudet, Coastal Director Jeffrey Payne, Regional Administrator Michael Pentony, SMAST Professor Dan Georgiana and all board members from Sectors IX and VII, Dr. Brian Rothschild, former City Councillor Tom Kennedy, and Richard Canastra of the Seafood Exchange.