Snowe leads effort to assist fishermen with disaster declaration
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, the ranking member of the Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, is leading an effort in the Senate to urge Congressional leadership to provide $100 million in economic disaster assistance for the Northeast multispecies fishery.
On Sept. 13, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank declared a disaster for New England during the 2013 fishing year, which begins on May 1, 2013. The action authorizes Congress to appropriate funds to assist Maine’s fishermen.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sens. Snowe and John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, led the Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York Senate delegations in requesting that funds be directed at lowering operating costs for fishermen in the short-term, while investing in this historic resource for future years. Specifically, the letter outlines a number of priorities for funding, including fully covering at-sea-monitoring costs for the next two fishing years, lowering sector operating costs, and investing in additional and improved stock assessments. The senators expressed concern that without assistance many fishermen could go out of business.
Maine fishermen are facing additional challenges in the wake of new science and data indicating that the northeast fishery is extremely challenged and some key stocks are heavily strained. Despite fishermen operating within their catch limits, a number of fishery stocks have not been rebuilt and catch limits for 2013 are expected to experience major reductions for key stocks including cod, haddock, and yellowtail. A commercial fishing failure was declared under Section 312(a) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and Section 308(b) of the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act. The declaration allows Congress to appropriate funding to mitigate the disaster.