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Feb 08 2013

Maine Delegation Urges Support for New England Groundfishing Industry

Letter to Obama Administration also signed by members of Massachusetts and New Hampshire delegations

          WASHINGTON, D.C.--The Maine Congressional delegation has written a letter to the Obama Administration expressing concern about the future of the groundfishing industry and asking that regulators act to preserve the viability of the New England groundfish fleet.

             The letter, which was also signed by nine other Senators and Representatives from Massachusetts and New Hampshire, asks federal officials to fully cover the cost of onboard monitoring of fishing vessels, a cost that the delegation says is too much to bear for many fishermen given the dramatically reduced catch limits they face.  The letter also urges regulators to make a quick decision on whether or not fishermen can carry over a portion of their unused quota from one year to the next, a decision fishermen say they need so they can plan appropriately.

             "We are deeply concerned about the ability of the fishing industry to survive these considerable catch reductions, as well as the implications for the future sustainability of the resource. Scientific and anecdotal evidence suggests a serious resource problem that must be addressed through science-based management. More needs to be done to improve our data collection and analysis because sound management can only be built on a strong understanding of the resource," the delegation wrote in the letter to Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank.

             In addition, the letter asks officials to look for ways to help the groundfish industry through agencies like the Small Business Administration or the Economic Development Administration and it urges regulators to take a more comprehensive approach to regulation.

             "We encourage NOAA to work with fishermen to better understand the ecosystem as a whole, including issues such as warmer water temperatures, critical habitat, and predator/prey dynamics, as we work toward management efforts to rebuild and sustain healthy stocks," the letter says.

             In addition to all four members of the Maine Congressional delegation, the letter was signed by Senators ElizabethWarren and William Cowan and Representatives Michael Capuano, William Keating, Joseph Kennedy III, Stephen Lynch, Edward Markey and John Tierney of Massachusetts and Representative Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire.