Snowe Urges Commerce Department to Declare Disaster for New England Fishermen .....urged U.S. Commerce Secretary to declare the Northeast multispecies fishery a failure, which would provide Congress with the strong base needed to pursue further measures that can give relief....
BigNews.Biz - Apr 30,2012 - Snowe Urges Commerce Department to Declare Disaster for New England Fishermen
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard urged U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson to declare the Northeast multispecies fishery a failure, which would provide Congress with the strong base needed to pursue further measures that can give a much-needed relief valve to the struggling New England groundfishing industry. The senator’s request follows up on a letter from Maine Governor Paul LePage urging the department to take action in declaring a disaster.
“I am aware that today the New England Fishery Management Council considered a motion to request the Secretary of Commerce declare a fishery disaster declaration, and that the motion was ultimately tabled,” said Senator Snowe. “The dramatic catch reduction in Georges Bank yellowtail flounder that will go into effect on May 1st will be devastating to the offshore fleet, despite our significant achievement last year to increase flexibility in the management of this stock, which is a shared resource jointly managed by both the US and Canada. I thank the Secretary for taking interim action in 2012 to grant some reprieve for the inshore fleet that depends on Gulf of Maine cod, but the lower catch limits on cod this year will still be difficult for fishermen to bear, and next year the limits will simply be untenably low.
“The Council is demonstrating excellent leadership, working together with groundfish and scallop industry members to identify solutions to these problems in the near term. Congress and the Department of Commerce must follow their lead and come together to seek ways to support this historic industry with economic aid, regulatory reform, and legislative change to provide relief to our nation's fishermen.”
In 2009, Senator Snowe authored the International Fisheries Agreement Clarification Act (S. 2856), which allowed a desperately needed extension of the rebuilding timeline for Georges Bank yellowtail flounder critically important to both groundfishermen and scallopers. Of Senator Snowe’s efforts, Jackie Odell, executive director of the Northeast Seafood Coalition, has said: “To my knowledge, the New England groundfish fishery is the only U.S. fishery to have gained truly meaningful and tangible statutory flexibility under the arbitrary rebuilding provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act since those provisions were enacted in 1996. Senator Snowe was the author and definitive champion of the International Fisheries Agreement Clarification Act of 2010 which provided that unique flexibility.”