New Fishing Rules Open Up Monitor Jobs

By Don Cuddy
NEW BEDFORD — New regulations intended to rebuild groundfish stocks in the Northeast will also result in the creation of up to 100 new jobs in the fishing industry.
“Starting May 1st there is going to be a need for a lot of monitors for groundfishing boats,” said Jo Michaud, a manager at AIS Inc., which currently supplies trained observers to both commercial fishing vessels and dredges. Monitoring, however, is a new development, she said.
The new measures, developed by the New England Fishery Management Council and known as Amendment 16, create fishing “sectors” allowing members of a designated group of fishermen to share in the allowable yearly catch.
Individual shares will be assigned to boats based on prior records of fish landings. As part of this new strategy, monitors will be required to work on boats at sea and while they land their catch on the docks to track how much fish is landed and how much is discarded as by-catch.
Professor Robert Rak of Bristol Community College said a course has already been developed for those interested in becoming monitors and could be taught at the Fall River or New Bedford campuses.
“The monitors will be in place to verify that things are done properly,” he said.
The semester-long BCC program will cover a range of topics, including marine safety and navigation, marine biology and fishing technology, he said. The start date was not announced but Rak can be reached at (508)-678-2811, Ext. 2771.
“Funding came from a National Science Foundation ‘Smart Grant,'” he said. “They wanted us to develop a marine technology program at BCC and the National Marine Fisheries Service wanted these new jobs to go to local people.”
Costs will be kept low. Four courses are required for completion of the program and the grant will pay for three of them, Rak said.
“The marine safety class only requires a weekend,” he said. “But Fishing Technology is a semester-long program from 8-2 every Friday and it will include things like field trips to Woods Hole.” Students can earn four college credits for this course.
The first class will be limited to 15 students, Rak said, but training will be offered continuously to ensure there are sufficient monitors available. “We’ve already had some calls as soon as the notice came out,” he said.
Some additional training from the National Marine Fisheries Service will be required after the BCC course in order to complete certification.
Neither Michaud or Rak would say specifically how much these positions would pay.
But Michaud stressed “these are real jobs, not something that is just going to last for a couple of months. Some will be part-time and some will be full-time but they are not minimum wage and they are going to need people.”
January 30, 2010
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