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Marblehead Bans Fishing From Public Piers

By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent
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WBZ-TV's Joe Shortsleeve Joe Shortsleeve
Joe Shortsleeve is chief correspondent for WBZ-TV News weekdays a...
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MARBLEHEAD (CBS) — In the historic fishing village of Marblehead, you are no longer allowed to fish off the public piers.

A town board decided the docks were getting overcrowded.

Three teenagers on this summer’s day say they would love to be fishing on the docks in Marblehead but they have read the new signs posted at eight locations in the waterfront community. No Fishing.

“I say no way, let us fish. Why not let us fish down here?”

Pictures taken by the town’s harbormaster show the problem.

Webb Russell says too many people had been crowding onto town docks. Most of the fishermen in the photographs are from the Cambodian community and they do not live in Marblehead. They come from neighboring towns to fish for squid.

“It was a little bit out of control,” Russell said. “The volume of people fishing down the gangway here, side-by-side.”

So earlier this month the Marblehead Harbors and Waters Board voted to ban fishing from all public docks.

Michael Bourne is a resident of Marblehead.

“Several of my friends who grew up in this town since the age of 4 say they feel disgusted by the situation,” he says.

Bourne has started a Facebook group called Bring Back Fishing To Marblehead.

“The result is, there are no Cambodians who are going to be fishing here as long as this ban is in place,” Bourne said. “Whatever your heritage you should be allowed to gather in this town.”

When asked if the ban has racist undertones, Harbormaster Russell said:

“I completely disagree with that, in my eyes it was just overcrowding. It doesn’t matter what race was there.”

Other communities like Chatham , Provincetown and Gloucester have been dealing with similar issues and they say it’s simply overcrowding.

Right now in Provincetown you have to pay $500 if you are a commercial interest and you want to fish off a public pier.

Fishing is a tradition in the North Shore community and WBZ has learned town leaders will re-consider the ban in early September and may allow fishing once again, with new rules.

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