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New England elected officials thank Commerce Secretary for Pollock increase but call for more action

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown, and Congressmen Barney Frank, John Tierney and William Delahunt, and Maine Senator Olympia Snowe responded to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke's announcement of an increased in the pollock limit from 6 to 36 million pounds with praise for the increase, but a unanimous perspective that more must be done.

Governor Patrick called the increase an "important first step" but called for an increase in "catch limits on all groundfish to the higher end of the acceptable range."

Senator Kerry said "without corresponding increases in the remaining ‘choke stocks’ our fishermen may not be able to significantly increase fishing this season." and he asked "NOAA to expand the catch limits for the remaining ‘choke stocks’ so our fishermen will be able to stay in business during this regulatory transition."

Senator Snowe state "I remain disappointed that NOAA and the Department of Commerce have failed to take additional action to increase catch limits on other so-called ‘choke stocks’" and "I find it telling that NMFS’s initial assessment of this resource was not just too low, but too low by such a vast margin—over thirty million pounds."

Congressman Frank, who last week called for NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco's resignation, then reversed his position after assurances from the White House that his concerns on fisheries issues would be addressed by the Administration stated "I am especially pleased that the decision today was announced directly by the Secretary of Commerce, who has authority over NOAA and has made this a priority.”   The Congressman pointed out that NOAA's reversal "confirms our view that previous allocations were much more restrictive than the science requires."

Congressman Tierney called for increases in the "remaining choke stocks" and "as much flexibility as possible.”

 

July 14, 2010

 

Statement of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick:

BOSTON- “US Commerce Secretary Locke’s actions today directing NOAA to raise the catch limits on pollock and other species is a welcome and well-deserved victory for Massachusetts fishermen. This is an important first step, but more must be done.  We must raise catch limits on all groundfish to the higher end of the acceptable range.  I will continue to work with Commerce and NOAA to achieve that result."

Joint Statement of Massachusetts Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown; Congressmen Barney Frank, John Tierney and William Delahunt:

BOSTON – Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown, together with Congressmen Barney Frank, John Tierney and William Delahunt today applauded the U.S. Commerce Department for increasing the catch limits on pollock from six million to 36 million pounds.
 
The new eased regulations, effective almost immediately, will help to ensure that sectors stay open and Massachusetts fishermen can continue to fish. It will also allow the industry as a whole to continue to rebuild.
 
Pollock have been called a "choke stock" by fishermen because low pollock quotas threaten to trigger automatic sector closures.  In the Northeast sector system, all sector fishing must cease once the sector's quota is reached on any groundfish species.
 
The legislators sent a letter to the Commerce Department in April asking for an increase in the catch share limit to help fishermen survive one of the worst economic climates their industry has ever faced. They said that “unless the federal government takes additional steps to help fishermen adjust through this transition (to the catch shares fisheries management system), many will be forced out of work,” and that we need to “make every possible effort to nurture, encourage and facilitate survival of the industry through this difficult period.”
 
“I am pleased that NOAA has agreed to our request to provide a five-fold increase in the annual catch limit of pollock, a key stock in the Massachusetts groundfish fishery.  I remain concerned, however, that without corresponding increases in the remaining ‘choke stocks’ our fishermen may not be able to significantly increase fishing this season. Again, I ask NOAA to expand the catch limits for the remaining ‘choke stocks’ so our fishermen will be able to stay in business during this regulatory transition,” said Senator Kerry. 

“The Commerce Department’s decision to increase the catch limits on Pollock is welcome news to our hardworking fishermen. This decision is a good step toward assisting the fishermen who are key contributors to our state’s economy and have been struggling through these tough times,” said Senator Scott Brown.
 
“I am pleased at this first step toward meeting the legitimate needs of our fishing industry and of American consumers for whom reasonably-priced fish is an important source of healthy food,” said Congressman Frank.  “The decision to raise the catch limits based on scientific review confirms our view that previous allocations were much more restrictive than the science requires.  The six-fold increase in the pollock limit, for example, demonstrates the seriousness of the underestimate before I and other Members of Congress advocated for the strong need for reassessment. And while I’m very pleased that we have seen an increase in the limits for pollock, I urge the administration to re-evaluate as expeditiously as possible the other relevant “choke species” that are gravely impacting the fishing industry.  Finally, I am especially pleased that the decision today was announced directly by the Secretary of Commerce, who has authority over NOAA and has made this a priority.”
 
“While I am pleased to learn that the Secretary has followed through on his promise to raise the Pollock shares, I remain concerned that our fishing communities are still stifled and limited in their productivity because of the low limits on the other choke stocks,” Congressman Tierney said. “We implore the Secretary to announce increases in the remaining choke stocks, and I continue to work with my colleagues to provide as much flexibility as possible.”
 
"If the fishing industry is going to survive, then the federal government must take steps like this and provide more access to stocks that are rebuilding, like pollock and dogfish" said Bill Delahunt. "I will continue to work on behalf of our fishermen in promoting initiatives like this."

 

Statement of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe:

WASHINGTON - Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) today welcomed the announcement by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) that groundfishermen will be allowed to catch nearly six times as much pollock as this fishing year than they had previously been allocated and released the following statement:
 
“I’m pleased NMFS has acknowledged that the annual catch limit of pollock for the 2010 fishing year will be increased more than five hundred percent.  This action will provide badly needed relief to New England groundfishermen struggling with the transition from days-at-sea to sector management.  Yet I remain disappointed that NOAA and the Department of Commerce have failed to take additional action to increase catch limits on other so-called ‘choke stocks’ like yellowtail flounder and Gulf of Maine winter flounder, which threaten the viability of this fishery,” said Senator Snowe.  “I will continue to work with the Administration until we can agree to fair catch limits that adequately balance the mandate to end overfishing with the socio-economic crisis facing New England’s fishing communities.”
 
“Furthermore, I find it telling that NMFS’s initial assessment of this resource was not just too low, but too low by such a vast margin—over thirty million pounds,” added Senator Snowe.  “This vast discrepancy between the most recent stock assessments is a direct result of a drastic shortfall in funding for fisheries science.  If the Federal government insists on imposing regulations that threaten the very operation of our Nation’s first fishery, which is so integral to the economy and culture of our coastal regions, it must be willing to invest in the science to give fishermen and regulators the confidence that these assessments are fair and accurate.”

 

 

 

 

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