By Bree Sison, WBZ-TVBy Bree Sison

GLOUCESTER (CBS)- The City of Gloucester says preserving New England’s fishing industry is in the nation’s best interest, but they’ll need federal dollars to save it.

The Department of Commerce declared the Northeast groundfisheries an economic disaster last fall, paving the way for financial relief. Mayor Carolyn Kirk spearheaded the creation of a plan outlining the best use of government funding.

“The Bridge Plan is about empowerment of a fishing community to shape a future,” said Sarah Garcia, the city’s Harbor Planning Director.

The Bridge Plan was crafted with input from activists, businesses and government officials. The proposals include transitional assistance to those affected by depleted fish stocks and a more collaborative management system for the fisheries. It also calls for investments in sustainable innovations and redeploying idle fishing boats as research vessels.

“There’s expertise in the community that scientists need, and our businesses need, to develop new industries,” said Garcia. “It’s not about the disappearance of fish. It’s about investing in a new way of looking at our ecosystem.”

Gloucester officials met with NOAA on Thursday to discuss the plan. A regional administrator for the agency told WBZ-TV the meeting was productive but said any financial backing for the plan must be allocated by Congress.

The Mayor and a delegation from the city are planning a trip to Washington DC for the end of the month. They intend to meet with the Department of Commerce. Community activists have already made the trip to lobby in front of Congress.


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