Mass. Delegation Members Urge Obama Admin. to Speed Fishery Disaster Payment Process

WASHINGTON (April 22, 2014) – Eight members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation today pressed the U.S. Department of Commerce to immediately begin the process of allocating the $75 million in fishery disaster funding that was included in the government spending bill that passed in January. In the letter sent to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, the delegation members say that the impact on Massachusetts fishermen comprises 90 percent of the economic disaster in the Northeast region, and that the money should be distributed directly to the state to more efficiently deliver to fishermen, as Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has suggested.

The letter was led by Senator Edward J. Markey and signed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, along with Reps. John Tierney, Stephen Lynch, Bill Keating, Niki Tsongas, Joe Kennedy, and Katherine Clark.

“The groundfish fishery disaster has had a devastating economic impact on businesses that depend on the fishing industry – causing economic harm to shore-side businesses such as seafood auctions, gear suppliers, and seafood processors, among others,” write the lawmakers. “We believe that the most equitable manner by which to distribute this much-needed disaster assistance will be primarily based on where the fish is landed, processed, and shipped to end users. Further delay in disbursing federal disaster assistance would impose an unacceptable burden on Massachusetts fishermen and fishing-related businesses that have already been waiting years for help in dealing with the commercial fishery failure.”

In September 2012, the Department of Commerce declared a commercial fishery failure under Section 312(a) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and Section 308(b) of the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act for the 2013 season. In January 2014, the Consolidated Appropriations Act provided $75 million in disaster assistance to struggling fishermen and fishing-related businesses in areas which had received a disaster declaration in either 2012 or 2013.

The full letter is available HERE.