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Bolger/Altenberger editorial in Gloucester Times

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  • Bruce Hallman
    http://www.gloucestertimes.com/puopinion/local_story_342223708.html/resources_printstory My View: Fishing boat project draws more support My View Phil Bolger
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 9, 2008

      My View: Fishing boat project draws more support

      My View
      Phil Bolger and Susanne Altenburger

      December 08, 2008 05:50 am

      As some readers have noticed since 2004, we have worked across a
      series of articles, interviews and My View columns in the Times to
      raise awareness of a significant economic disadvantage imposed on our
      port's fishing fleet by federal statute.

      It amounts to a prohibition on our fishermen against acquiring and
      benefiting from the equivalent of a hybrid car — a remarkable state of
      regulatory affairs in this age of energy-cost uncertainty and need to
      pursue all opportunities to become sustainable. This has seriously
      hurt our port's viability.

      We see no indication, however, that in the age of the Obama
      presidency, serious national energy-security concerns, and the
      multiple pressures on the bottom-line of the myriad of family fishing
      businesses, the permitting agencies would stand in the way of pursuing
      21st century vessel-economics that can match the hard dictates of
      sustainable resource-management.

      Prototyping and testing in the harsh rigors of the 12-month fisheries
      should demonstrate the viability of adjusting permit-restrictions away
      from "length" towards "weight"-based regulation. This would inevitably
      lead to a broad diversity of efficient hull-geometrics to specifically
      match the demands of various fisheries and captain's personal

      For our port's economy within the protection of the DPA, this offers
      significant commercial opportunities enhancing marine-industrial jobs
      and our tax base, by first constructing for this fleet, then other
      port's fleets, then commercial craft such as "Whalewatchers"
      governmental craft and the world's largest pleasure boat market.

      This nation's boats and ships were designed and build in an age of $1
      per gallon fuel. Past fleet-building assistance programs on the
      federal level established sound precedent to help restructure this
      fishing fleet to match current and future challenges.

      Since 2007, more than 40 fishermen across all catch-methods and tribes
      have come to agree with our proposal, as have their counterparts in
      the ecological community such as the Conservation Law Foundation and
      the Ocean Alliance — a rare coalition these days.

      Absent since 2002 though has been an active engagement in this project
      by our city's leadership. Elected under an explicit emphasis of
      "sustainability" across all aspects of our city's economy, Mayor
      Carolyn Kirk has recently decided to support our proposal in pursuit
      of sustainability of the fleet and thus this port's economy and the
      city's budget.

      Here are several excerpts from a letter of support we recently
      received from her:

      "To maintain the steady supply of seafood to this port and the nation,
      this city must lead in the development of low-carbon footprint
      resource-sustaining operation of commercial fishing craft and of our
      port. Only a fleet and a port prepared for the 21st century will be
      able to prosper, once resource sustainability is assured," the mayor

      "By adding major marine industry it is hoped to reinvigorate America's
      oldest marine industrial port. (...) Across the growing number of
      specialized yards, commercial boat building for this market offers
      apprenticeships to our students, and opportunities for life-long
      careers at good wages in an industry based on sustainability of the
      resource and the demands for matching craft," she wrote.

      "Re-establishing Gloucester-based vessel construction re-emphasizes
      the opportunities of value-adding harbor-dependent ventures such as
      seafood-processing for board demands and specialty needs. Processing
      catch right out of the vessels eliminates quality losses and
      transportation cost of shipping unimproved product, a key advantage to
      survive in the market-place.

      "Designing and testing these vessels will demonstrate lean geometries
      with minimized 'carbon footprint' and should trigger the elimination
      of persistent regulatory roadblocks against energy efficiencies across
      the fleet.

      "Gloucester assumes the lead in establishing the sustainability of
      fishing," the mayor wrote, "as our port depends on it."

      Phil Bolger and Susanne Altenburger are Gloucester residents and
      design boats as Phil Bolger & Friends, 66 Atlantic St., Gloucester.

      Copyright (c) 1999-2008 cnhi, inc.
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