Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) issued the following statement after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) responded to his recent letter by outlining new actions for the Massachusetts fishing industry. Following the field hearing he chaired earlier this month in Boston, Kerry sent a follow-up letter to NOAA urging detailed, specific actions to help Massachusetts fishermen.
"Today's letter I hope is a down-payment that lays out some welcome steps even as I continue to work towards a disaster declaration hopefully in short order," Kerry said of the response letter sent this afternoon from the NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco. "These are all good faith actions I've requested, and I appreciate that we're in constant contact at this critical time for our fishermen. I chaired the field hearing hoping to help break a logjam. I'm glad that now we're moving at a quicker pace towards another direct face to face meeting in Massachusetts, expedited consideration of opening additional fishing areas, and what should be support of an increase in the rollover percentage of unused quota. We have to keep at this every day, and I'm particularly focused on making progress with Secretary Bryson's trip to Massachusetts in the very near future."
In today's letter, NOAA agreed to several of Senator Kerry's requests including:
* agreeing to meet with Massachusetts fishing representatives and the members of the Northeast Fishery Management Council to further discuss the major regulatory issues facing New England fishermen;
* expediting the review of any future Commonwealth of Massachusetts application for a disaster declaration;
* funding the cost of at-sea monitoring for New England groundfish through the end of the 2012 fishing year;
* contracting an independent consulting firm to assess NOAA's response to the Touchstone report;
* supporting increasing the rollover of unused quota above the existing 10 percent limit; AND
* analyzing fishing areas around Massachusetts that are currently closed to fishing to determine areas that could be open to fishing.