WASHINGTON, DC - Today, United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.),Susan Collins (R-Maine), Angus King (I-Maine), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced a bipartisan budget amendment to support at-sea and dockside monitoring for fisheries that have received economic disaster assistance. A fishery disaster declaration was declared in 2012 for the Northeast.
"Many fishing families across Massachusetts are facing significant hardship because of the ongoing fisheries disaster," Senator Warren said. "Our hardworking fishermen should not be forced to pick up the costs for required at-sea and dockside monitoring--paying for monitors should remain a federal obligation."
"Fishermen are having a hard enough time keeping up with their bills because of this fishing disaster. They need help, and paying for these costs can give fishermen and families some assistance in staying afloat," said Senator Markey.
In 2007, the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils, in coordination with NOAA Fisheries, developed a standardized bycatch reporting methodology (SBRM) for all Fishery Management Plans in the Northeast Region. A U.S. Court of Appeals decision required NOAA to provide funding for SBRM out of the same discretionary funding used to cover the costs of the At-Sea Monitoring (ASM) program to pay for observers.
NOAA's upcoming payments to fund the SBRM could result in the at-sea observers program running out of money sometime before the end of the fiscal year. This would result in the struggling groundfish industry having to bear the full cost of at-sea observer coverage, which can cost nearly $1,000 per day.
Text of the budget amendment is available here.