New Bedford mayor unhappy with Baker pick for fish panel

SE Mass

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell is once again expressing frustration with Beacon Hill leaders for a lack of focus on the Whaling City.

Last week, Plymouth resident Michael Pierdinock was named to a seat representing Massachusetts on the New England Fishery Management Council, a panel that sets rules for the fishing industry such as catch limits. It is one of eight such regional councils nationwide.

Pierdinock will replace former state Rep. John Quinn, a Dartmouth resident and longtime member who had years of expertise regarding commercial fishing issues in Greater New Bedford.

Pierdinock, a civil engineer who owns a charter boat, was Gov. Charlie Baker’s top choice for the seat and listed as a recreational fisherman. State campaign-finance records show he has made $2,500 in campaign donations to Baker since 2016.

A Baker administration official emphasized that Pierdinock docks his vessel in New Bedford, and said he is knowledgeable about issues “that impact recreational anglers and the for-hire industry.”

But that defense didn’t satisfy Mitchell.

“It is deeply troubling that state officials have declined to nominate a fisheries council candidate from New Bedford, whose annual fish landings are eight times that of the next largest Massachusetts port,” the mayor said in a statement.

“When it comes to commercial fishing in Massachusetts, New Bedford should be top of mind – not an afterthought,” Mitchell added.

Baker did nominate one New Bedford resident for the council — Jim Kendall, executive director of the New Bedford Seafood Coalition — but only as his third-ranked choice out of three options.

Quinn has served as chairman of the council for the last five years, and was praised for his “extraordinary leadership” by the panel’s vice chair, Eric Reid, in a farewell letter.

“You made the tough times easier and the good times better,” wrote Reid, a North Kingstown fisheries consultant.

Pierdinock will replace Quinn on Aug. 11. The other three Massachusetts at-large seats are held by residents of East Falmouth, Gloucester and Chatham.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram

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