Letter to Commerce Department Asks for Small Business Loans, Interagency Cooperation to Help Bay State Fisherman During Tough Economic Times


WASHINGTON (March 17, 2011) – Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Malden), the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, sent a letter with Reps. Barney Frank, Bill Keating, and John Tierney asking the Commerce Department to provide immediate assistance to Massachusetts fisherman in an effort to address negative economic impacts associated with the initial implementation of the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. Despite recent increased overall revenues at Massachusetts ports, additional support is needed to respond to economic impacts to sustain our unique and iconic fishing industry and communities and the fish stocks on which they depend.   After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Obama Administration demonstrated its ability to coordinate and effectively address economic impacts on small businesses, including providing them with technical and financial assistance. Similar actions can be taken now to ensure the well being of our coastal communities in Massachusetts. 
“The history of the Bay State is inseparable from her fisherman. Maintaining a vibrant and robust fishing industry and fisheries will protect our heritage and strengthen our future,” said Rep. Markey. “We are asking that the Obama Administration take the lessons learned from their Gulf recovery efforts to design and implement economic assistance solutions for impacted fisherman in the near term to support the long term health of our coastal communities.”
 “Given the impact that government actions have had on the fishing industry, it is especially appropriate that the Department of Commerce take this action that will provide needed help to fishermen,” said Rep. Frank.
“There is no doubt that there is an urgent need for up-to-date scientific research in order to implement fair and effective fisheries management policies, but until that happens, this community needs immediate help,” said Rep. Keating. ”Providing loans to the many small businesses comprising this industry makes sense. The Commerce Department has acknowledged that their enforcement procedures need to be overhauled. The fishermen who have been suffering should not need to wait until those changes are implemented for relief.”
“The fishing community continues to face significant economic challenges and deserves the chance to continue to not only survive, but thrive in a lively fishing industry. Building on the Department¹s welcomed announcements yesterday, my colleagues and I remain committed to working with federal agencies to provide increased economic opportunities for fishermen who have been plagued by the negative impact of catch share program and I look forward to the deployment of an Economic Development and Assessment Team,” said Rep. Tierney.
A copy of the letter to the Commerce Department can be found HERE.