Mar 13 2012

JOHN KERRY: Righting a wrong for our fisheries

In Massachusetts, commercial fishing supports more than 77,000 jobs. Recreational fishing is also an important part of our maritime economy and our local research institutions are world-renowned. However, today our fishermen continue to face economic peril and they are deeply frustrated by science and research they don’t trust and federal regulators in whom they lost faith when abuses were exposed by an investigation.

We can take an important first step in changing the relationship between our fishermen and federal regulators by passing the Fisheries Investment and Regulatory Relief Act which I am introducing in the Commerce Committee with Senator Snowe, a Republican Senator from Maine and my longtime colleague on the Committee. In the House, Congressmen Barney Frank and Frank Guinta will be introducing similar legislation.

The cornerstone of this bill is returning the use of Saltonstall-Kennedy funds to our fishermen, as was the original intent of its creators.

In 2010, the estimated total duties collected on imports of fishery products were $376.6 million. Thirty percent of that total is approximately $113 million that should be used to improve science and help our fisheries. Unfortunately last year, only $8.4 million of that $113 million was used by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for grants for fisheries research and development projects. The remaining funds were used by NOAA for their operations.

This simply can’t continue, especially given the current situation facing our fisheries. Our bill will restore the investment to help the fishermen and communities for whom Sens. Saltonstall and Kennedy originally intended it to protect.

Read the full opinion piece from The Gloucester Times.


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