The fishing industry remains one of the most historic and economically important industries in all of New England. Yet the challenges facing Massachusetts’s fishermen are as complex and dynamic as the marine ecosystems on which the industry depends.
The first piece of legislation Bill introduced when he was elected to Congress was the Strengthen Fisheries Management in New England Act, which would improve fisheries management and promote scientific research and stock assessments. He also founded a Federal Fishing Task Force to assist commercial fishermen in communicating with each other and other industry stakeholders. This Task Force allows our fishermen to better organize together.
Bill has urged the Department of Commerce to send economic assessment teams to survey the impact of new fishing regulations and the recent recession on the profitability of our fishing industry.
The Northeast multispecies groundfish fishery was issued a disaster declaration by then-Secretary Rebecca Blank of the Department of Commerce in September 2012. After repeated individual, regional, and bipartisan efforts by impacted offices and states, $75 million in financial disaster assistance was appropriated for fisheries disasters nationwide. Bill worked diligently to ensure that Massachusetts’s fishermen receive financial assistance, including by offering budget neutral amendments to the Hurricane Sandy Emergency Supplemental, appropriations process, Farm Bill, and, finally, the FY2014 Omnibus.
In the 114th Congress, Bill continued his work on behalf of Massachusetts’s fishermen by introducing legislation to amend the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the primary federal law governing fisheries, to authorize competitive grants to support programs that address the needs of fishing communities. Recognizing that the economic impact of low stocks extends beyond fishermen on the water to their families and regional communities, this legislation would provide resources for shore side businesses, such as health promotion and disease preventative services, financial planning education, and workforce development training.
Further, Bill successfully authored an amendment to the Magnuson-Stevens Act that would enhance fishery research and stock assessments by authorizing boarder use of Asset Forfeiture Funds for (1) enhancing fishery research and stock assessments; (2) covering at-sea and shoreside monitoring; (3) advancing conservation gear engineering; (4) assisting with additional research for fishery impact statements; and (5) assisting with funding priorities of the regional fishery management councils.
He is also the lead Democrat of the Fisheries Investment and Regulatory Relief Act, which would amend the Saltonstall-Kennedy Act to provide grants to regional fishery management councils for local investment priorities. These councils would work with area fishermen to identify projects, such improving shore side infrastructure and seafood promotion, that are important for the region and to which the funds should be directed.
Bill remains committed to helping our fishermen adapt to strong, modern business models based on accurate and up-to-date scientific data.