Search and rescue and drug and migrant inter- diction may be the Coast Guard’s most visible missions, but fisheries and marine resources
protection are among its most historically important
— dating back to the 1820s and the former Revenue
Marine, or Cutter Service.
And while the commercial fishing industry has had
its well-documented ups and downs over the years, it
remains a big business in the United States, especially in
the Pacific Northwest, the Gulf Coast and New England.
Commercial landings by U.S. fishermen at ports in
the 50 states were 9. 9 billion pounds, or 4. 5 million
metric tons, valued at $5.5 billion in 2013 — an
increase of 245 million pounds (up 2. 5 percent) and
of $388 million (up 7. 6 percent) compared with 2012,
according to “Fisheries of the United States 2013,” the
most recent annual fisheries statistics report from
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Alaska led all states in value of
landings — catch that is brought
ashore — with $1.9 billion, followed by Massachusetts with
$566.9 million and Maine with
$473.9 million. New Bedford,
Mass., was the leading U.S. port in
terms of landings value, at $379
million, the report said.
The Coast Guard is charged
with protecting the U.S. Exclusive
“Our main job is we want to protect the resource
and we want to make it fair for everybody who is par-
ticipating in the fishery,” said CDR Jay Caputo, com-
mander of the 270-foot Medium-Endurance Cutter
Campbell, which conducts enforcement patrols off the
New England coast from its homeport in Kittery,
Maine, for the First Coast Guard District. “If they’re
cheating, that’s not fair. Also, they’re destroying the
resource for everybody. So that is our main objective
when we are out there.”
Nationwide, domestic fisheries support a $24 bil-
lion industry. In New England, the commercial fish-
ing industry is a $1.3-billion-a-year business in land-
ings only, according to NOAA statistics. Factoring in
all that is involved with processing, packing, trans-
Leveling the Playing Field
Fisheries, marine resource enforcement aims
to ‘make it fair for everybody’ in fishing industry
By PETER ATKINSON, Deputy Editor
The Coast Guard enforces fisheries laws under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act that was
passed in 1976 establishing the Exclusive Economic Zone and
extending exclusive rights out to 200 nautical miles for fisheries
and other natural resources.
■ The “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing
Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act,” introduced by the House
Natural Resources Committee in May, would revise and reauthorize Magnuson-Stevens through fiscal 2018.
■ The service’s Ocean Steward and Ocean Guardian strategic
plans were updated in 2014.
■ The Coast Guard also coordinates with numerous other agencies on the federal, state and local level in conducting its enforcement and protection efforts.