Senator John Kerry today pledged to continue to fight on behalf of Massachusetts' fishing industry after the U.S. Department of Commerce denied a request by Governor Deval Patrick for emergency aid.
"Fishermen are going out of business and many more are pushed to the brink, and we need to find a way to increase stock levels and provide emergency assistance. Governor Patrick is fighting alongside us, and while Secretary Locke expressed a welcome willingness to look at these questions anew, we respectfully disagree with his determination that he cannot make changes in the fishing catch share levels without new scientific evidence," said Sen. Kerry. "I believe the Secretary has the authority to raise fishing levels based on the information provided by Governor Patrick and the economic effects of the catch share program on Massachusetts fishermen. This is not over. I was successful in obtaining direct assistance for our fishermen in the appropriations process last year that was unfortunately blocked by the Republicans. I will continue to find appropriate solutions to develop a sustainable fishery while helping our fishing industry get up off the mat and thrive again. In particular, today I am asking the Secretary of Commerce to complete negotiations with the Canadian government on an international agreement to eliminate disparities and increase catch limits for our fishermen."
Last October, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced that he was "prepared to issue an emergency regulation to revise catch limits whenever there is both sufficient economic and sound scientific data available" in a letter to Governor Patrick.
In November, Kerry, along with Senator Scott Brown and Congressmen John F. Tierney, Barney Frank, and Bill Delahunt, sent a letter to Secretary Locke supporting the Governor's request for emergency regulations revising catch limits to higher levels that remain consistent with conservation requirements.