United States Senators from New England's five coastal states today urged action by the U.S. Department of Commerce to prevent drastic and devastating cuts to the region's historic cod fishing industry in light of a recommendation from the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) yesterday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Specifically, the Council requested that the Secretary of Commerce implement interim measures for Fishing Year 2012 and recommended that the Annual Catch Limit be set between 6,700 and 7,500 metric tons. On Tuesday, the Senators, joined by nine colleagues from the House of Representatives, wrote to Secretary of Commerce John Bryson urging his department's help in preventing the collapse of the industry, requesting that he use his authority to set 2012 catch levels for Gulf of Maine cod at "a level that would allow the industry to survive."
The Senators said:
"As we wrote on Tuesday, it is our hope that the Commerce Department will support the New England Fishery Management Council's interim measures, requested at yesterday's meeting in Portsmouth. Indeed, the groundfish industry has been living within its means according to the best available science until, through no fault of its own, the best available science changed. A drastic and sudden change in the catch limit would devastate the industry and the communities that its fishermen support, costing New England untold jobs at a time when we must be focused on saving and creating jobs. We acknowledge that this is an exceptionally difficult problem with no easy solutions, but we hope the Commerce Department will look at the human side of the equation, and preserve an honorable profession for thousands of New Englanders."
BACKGROUND: Senators signing Tuesday's letter were: Senators Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine; Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire; John F. Kerry and Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts; Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island; and Joseph I. Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.