In 1991, when a group of Cape Cod hook fishermen sporting their well-worn Grundens headed to Boston to make their voices heard, little did they know that a quarter century later their grassroots organization would be a force in New England fisheries policy. “Hook fishermen were under represented at the council level, and so about 30 of us longliners and jig fishermen banded together to make a difference,” says Eric Hesse, one of the original members of what was then called the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association.
The trip was part of the fledging organization’s efforts to become better represented on the New England Fisheries Management Council, the governing body that is key to all of the region’s regulatory actions. The fishermen were successful in getting their new director, John Pappalardo, onto the council, where his presence at the table quickly made a difference for the small-boat fishing community on Cape Cod.
Since these humble beginnings, the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance has burgeoned into an advocacy powerhouse representing 150 small-boat fishing businesses on Cape Cod. Their scope has broadened to include other gear types and different fisheries. “Anyone who fishes commercially on Cape Cod can turn to the Fishermen’s Alliance,” says Pappalardo.
Chatham fisherman Nick Muto (pictured above, at right), current chairman of the board of directors, stresses the organization’s future focus. “Because the fishing industry never knows what challenges we face next on the water, I feel confident that we can continue to be an industry leader for the next 25 years.”
Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, 1566 Main St., Chatham, 508-348-0252