Today, Congressmen Barney Frank (MA-04) and Bill Keating (MA-10) joined with Senator John Kerry in requesting that the US Department of Commerce increase the percentage of unused groundfish quota that can be carried-over into the 2011-2012 fishing year.
As the current fishing season draws to a close, several individual fishing stocks quotas -- such as George's Bank Cod and George's Bank Haddock -- have not been met. Current regulations under Amendment 16 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act allow for a 10% carryover of unused quota allocated to sectors. Senator Kerry and Congressmen Frank and Keating are requesting that this percentage be increased for the upcoming fishing season so that the fishermen will be able to profit while remaining within sustainable catch limits.
The Commerce Department has announced that it will deploy Economic Development and Assessment teams to several New England fishing communities in order to identify and evaluate the economic conditions they face. While this step will be instrumental in promoting awareness of the dire condition of the fishing industry, it will not provide the immediate relief that so many Massachusetts fishermen desperately need.
The full text of the letter is below.
April 5, 2011
The Honorable Gary Locke
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20230
Dear Secretary Locke:
We thank you again for demonstrating a thorough understanding of the economic difficulties facing fishermen throughout the state of Massachusetts. Your decision to deploy Economic Development and Assessment Teams to New England fishing communities will undoubtedly reveal the urgent need to provide our fishermen with tangible economic recovery solutions. We eagerly await your response to our March 17th letter requesting high-level interagency coordination to assess and evaluate all options to provide assistance to our struggling fishing communities.
The groundfish fishery in Massachusetts has struggled to adapt to strict regulations, and it was only until recently that many of our sectors developed an organized system to trade fishing stocks. As the end of the fishing season draws to a close, it is evident that several individual fishing stocks quotas remain to be filled. For example, only 67% of the total allocation of George's Bank Cod has been caught and only 16.5% of the George's Bank Haddock. Under Amendment 16, sectors are allowed to carry over up to 10 percent of unused quota for each stock into the next fishing year, with the exception of Georges Bank yellowtail flounder. In order to maximize the economic development of our local fisheries, we respectfully request that you consider increasing the percentage of unmet quota that can be rolled-over into the 2011-2012 fishing year. Adding unmet allocations of fishing stocks to the assigned quota for the coming year will allow the Massachusetts fleet to fish within the current fishing year allocations, and set reasonable limits for next year to provide the fleet with an opportunity to profit.
Again, we thank you for your attention to this matter and look forward to your prompt response.
John F. Kerry, United States Senator
Barney Frank, Member of Congress
William R. Keating, Member of Congress