Northshore Harbormasters Association News

New training bill in place for harbormasters

By Times StaffGloucester Daily Times

Gloucester, Rockport and other communities begin the new year with new state guidelines regarding the standardized training and certification for municipal harbormasters.

The new law, signed into law this week by Gov. Deval Patrick, comes through a comprehensive bill shepherded through the Legislature by state State Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester. The measure, initially filed by Sen. Robert Hedlund, R-Weymouth, had been sought by numerous regional harbormasters’ associations in the state.

Tarr said he sees many benefits for coastal communities arising from the new law.

"Without the structure of this bill, harbormasters have been doing their best to create training programs on their own," Tarr said. "Now they will have a reliable structure and a common platform to depend on for effective training."

Tarr said he had convened several meetings of interested parties at the State House over the past two years in order to develop consensus around the proper mechanisms to finance and govern harbormaster training, which is required for certification under state law.

Tarr noted that, while those affected by the bill were in agreement as to its necessity, regional differences needed to be reorganized.

"Solid teamwork between legislators and harbormasters will mean that the municipal personnel on the water will be efficient and effective, and the boating public and commercial fishermen will be better served," Tarr said.

Elements of the bill include establishing a training council consisting of representatives of each region of the state to design and approve training programs; creating a fund to receive and administer state and federal grants and fees assessed to cover the cost of training; and establishing a requirement that all harbormasters receive the approved training developed by the council.

"By doing this cooperatively, harbormaster training can be far more cost effective," Tarr said.

The measure drew support from Rockport Harbormasters Scott Story and Rosemary Lesch, Gloucester Harbormaster Jim Caulkett, and the North Shore Harbormasters Association.

"We are extremely excited that the bill has passed," Lesch said. "Thanks to all of the legislators and the entire Massachusetts Harbormaster Association for the hard work and dedication directed to the importance of this bill.

"It has been many years of hard work and continuation of efforts to keep training going without the backing of a training bill."

"The harbormasters from the three chapters — North and South Shore, Cape & Islands — all worked hard and committed their experience and dedication to seeing this law enacted," Caulkett added. "(It will) benefit all current and future harbormasters."

Tarr and Hedlund also thanked House colleagues Brad Hill, R-Ipswich, and Anthony Verga, D-Gloucester, for their role in advancing the bill through the House of Representatives.

Similarly, they expressed appreciation to Patrick, whose signature, they said, "reflects his understanding of the importance of this legislation to coastal communities."

Posted on January 1st, 2009 by Administrator in North Shore