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Public Statements

Letter to Secretary Ed Schafer, United States Department of Agriculture and Secretary Steven Preston, United States Small Business Administration

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Boston, MA


Letter to Secretary Ed Schafer, United States Department of Agriculture and Secretary Steven Preston, United States Small Business Administration

KERRY URGES FEDS TO PREPARE FOR RED TIDE OUTBREAK EXPECTED TO HIT MASSACHUSETTS COAST THIS SUMMER

Senator John Kerry today urged both the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to immediately figure out federal response to the red tide bloom that is threatening much of New England's coastal areas, including miles of Massachusetts' coast.

Last month, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries closed Cape Cod Bay to shellfishing in Sandwich and Bourne in response to this year's red tide bloom. As a result of these closures, the coast of Massachusetts from New Hampshire border to the Cape Cod Canal is now off-limits to shellfishing.

In 2005 Kerry worked to provide assistance for Massachusetts shellfish farmers who were suffering through the worst outbreak of red tide in more than three decades. Unfortunately, there was significant confusion between the Department of Agriculture and the Small Business Administration as to which federal agency ultimately is responsible for providing assistance to these fishermen.

"With scientists forecasting a 'larger-than-normal' red tide outbreak this summer, the time to coordinate a federal response is now, before a full-fledged outbreak occurs. If disaster strikes, struggling Massachusetts shellfishermen shouldn't be made victims of red tape, while inter-agency squabbles waste valuable time and money. I strongly urge both the SBA and the USDA to clarify the division of responsibilities for providing disaster assistance to shellfishermen in the most timely manner possible," said Senator Kerry.

The full texts of Senator Kerry's two letters are as follows:

June 4, 2008

Secretary Ed Schafer
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Schafer:

As you may be aware, on April 24, 2008, scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution forecasted a larger-than-normal New England Red Tide in the Gulf of Maine. This year's bloom could be comparable to the historic bloom of 2005 that resulted in an estimated direct impact of $18 million to the commercial shellfishing industry in Massachusetts alone, due to closures of commercial and recreational shellfish harvesting.

Last month, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries closed Cape Cod Bay to shellfishing in Sandwich and Bourne in response to this year's red tide bloom. As a result of these closures, the coast of Massachusetts from the New Hampshire border to Cape Cod Canal is now off-limits to shellfishing.

While I certainly hope that these are short-term and isolated closures, I also want to ensure that the federal government is prepared to promptly respond to the devastating impact of a potential bloom on the scale of the 2005 red tide.

In 2005, I worked to provide assistance for Massachusetts shellfish farmers who were suffering through the worst outbreak of red tide in more than three decades. Unfortunately, there was significant confusion between the Department of Agriculture and the Small Business Administration as to which federal agency ultimately is responsible for providing assistance to these fishermen. I would like to ensure that no such confusion exists this year, and that the federal government is able to provide timely assistance to Massachusetts shellfishermen, should it become necessary in the face of the red tide outbreak projected for this summer.

I look forward to working with your office to clarify the division of responsibilities for providing disaster assistance to shellfishermen. Please feel free to contact Kathleen Frangione on my staff at 202-224-2742 to discuss these issues.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this situation.

Sincerely,

John F. Kerry

June 4, 2008

Secretary Steven Preston
United States Small Business Administration
409 3rd Street SW
Washington, DC 20416

Dear Secretary Preston:

As you may be aware, on April 24, 2008, scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution forecasted a larger-than-normal New England Red Tide in the Gulf of Maine. This year's bloom could be comparable to the historic bloom of 2005 that resulted in an estimated direct impact of $18 million to the commercial shellfishing industry in Massachusetts alone, due to closures of commercial and recreational shellfish harvesting.

Last month, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries closed Cape Cod Bay to shellfishing in Sandwich and Bourne in response to this year's red tide bloom. As a result of these closures, the coast of Massachusetts from the New Hampshire border to Cape Cod Canal is now off-limits to shellfishing.

While I certainly hope that these are short-term and isolated closures, I also want to ensure that the federal government is prepared to promptly respond to the devastating impact of a potential bloom on the scale of the 2005 red tide.

In 2005, I worked to provide assistance for Massachusetts shellfish farmers who were suffering through the worst outbreak of red tide in more than three decades. Unfortunately, there was significant confusion between the Department of Agriculture and the Small Business Administration as to which federal agency ultimately is responsible for providing assistance to these fishermen. I would like to ensure that no such confusion exists this year, and that the federal government is able to provide timely assistance to Massachusetts shellfishermen, should it become necessary in the face of the red tide outbreak projected for this summer.

I look forward to working with your office to clarify the division of responsibilities for providing disaster assistance to shellfishermen. Please feel free to contact Kathleen Frangione on my staff at 202-224-2742 to discuss these issues.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this situation.

Sincerely,

John F. Kerry


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