NEW BEDFORD, Mass. Five fishermen lost when their boat
capsized in a storm were honored Sunday at a memorial service where
some questioned whether fishing regulations had put them at risk.
About 300 friends, family and politicians, including Sen. Edward
Kennedy, filled the 173-year-old Seamen's Bethel in New Bedford,
home port to 280 fishing vessels.
"Five more men of courage and determination have gone from our
midst and will not return to shore," the Rev. Kenneth Garrett, the
church's chaplain, said from a wooden pulpit carved in the shape of
a ship's prow.
The Dec. 20 loss of the boat Northern Edge was the worst loss of
life aboard a single vessel at sea in New England since six crew
members of the Gloucester-based Andrea Gail died in the "Perfect
Storm" in 1991.
Swells reaching 15 feet high rolled the Northern Edge onto its
side, spilling the scalloper's crew into the ocean about 45 miles
southeast of Nantucket. Lost were Capt. Carlos Lopes, Ray Richards,
Glen Crowley, Juan Flores and Eric Guillen.
The only survivor was Pedro Furtado, who clung to a life raft
for a half-hour before he was picked up by another scallop boat.
New Bedford Mayor Frederick Kalisz Jr. criticized federal rules
that some say cut fishing days and penalize fishermen who leave
fishing grounds early, putting pressure on captains to go out in
"We must not rest until our captains are once more given the
discretion to seek a harbor of refuge from stormy seas," said the
mayor of the city of 100,000, about 45 miles south of Boston.
Federal regulators said after the Northern Edge's sinking that
the penalties they have adopted ensure fishermen don't exceed catch
limits in restricted areas. They also said new rules for the area
where the boat went down are more lenient than ever.
The area was supposed to reopen to scallopers in late summer,
but that was delayed until November while officials worked out
final regulations. Some fisherman say the delay forced boats to sea
during hazardous winter months.
Kennedy, D-Mass., spoke of the passion his brother, President
Kennedy, felt for the sea _ a passion he said the crew of the
Northern Edge shared.
"The call of the sea is strong and irresistible," Kennedy
said. "Even with the knowledge of that danger."