After reading New Bedford Mayor John Mitchell’s recent press conference in Southcoast Today , we are left to ponder its impact upon the commercial fishing industry in New Bedford, MA.
The conference occurred at AHEAD, a headwear manufacturing company in New Bedford. Mayor Mitchell, recognizing the importance of manufacturing and industrial jobs in New Bedford, advocated for a return to work and safety in the workplace. The plan designates that a COVID 19 Health & Safety Officer (CHASO) must be appointed for all of these industries, which include the maritime industry, as workers slowly begin to return to work.
This could be a great opportunity for the fishing industry to acclimate, as other industries, in protecting its employees, namely commercial fishermen. Historically, commercial fishermen and woman have not been protected with such privileges. In fact, there is no official regulatory agency that protect those employees from work place injustices and hazards. There is far more protection, i.e. NOAA/National Marine Fisheries, of the various species that the commercial fishermen harvest, namely ground fish, scallops lobster etc., than for the actual commercial fisherman.
This minor step, if enacted in this industry, could go a long way for future protections which have been afforded other industries for many years.