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Public Statements

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Ms. PINGREE of Maine. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to this amendment.

Mr. Grimm said that he represents an island. I live on an island. I live in the heart of the fisheries in the State of Maine, and I join my colleagues in Maine in supporting this. I'm sorry to see my good friend from Massachusetts is in opposition, but it shows that there are differences in the fisheries. I guarantee you that the fishermen in my State would say this is not to circumvent the law; this is a law that is now working in our State and highly successful. This amendment would block the use of catch shares from managing our Nation's fisheries by superseding the Regional Fishery Management Council process set up by Congress.

I live in the heart of a district where people have lost a tremendous amount of fish and are looking for ways to make sure that they have a fisheries industry to pass along to their children and grandchildren. The sectors management system in Maine has done that; it has allowed innovative fishermen, like members of the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association, to manage their small business in a way that works best for them in their own way of managing it.

By having an allocation and the flexibility to fish on their own schedule--which I can tell you is far safer and far more profitable--fishermen can enter into contracts with processors and avoid the ``race to fish,'' improving their bottom line and their safety. And it's been proven over and over again.

Some Maine fishermen have even developed community-supported fisheries co-ops, which bring local fish to the tables of local consumers, strengthening our communities while getting fishermen a better price for their catch.

It is critical for coastal communities and working waterfronts that fishermen are allowed to utilize the best management tools for their particular fishery. Catch shares may not be the best option for every fishery, but that decision should be left to the industry, the management experts, and the scientists in their region where the fishery occurs.

In order to help our fishermen, we should be focused on improving the stock assessments, implementing cooperative research programs, addressing monitoring challenges, and ensuring fair enforcement. This amendment would do none of these things. Instead, it would take a critical management tool out of the toolbox to keep our fishermen on the water.

I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting fishermen by keeping all options available for wise fisheries management by opposing this amendment and sticking with the fishermen in the State of Maine who have found this highly successful--far more safe for the industry and much more profitable for them. Any other argument is just plain wrong.

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Ms. PINGREE of Maine. So just to be clear, the Catch Shares Program, as you've heard over and over again, suits the fishermen of my district. It serves them well. It brings about a tremendous amount more safety. When they had allocations, they had to go out whenever the day was, whatever the weather was. With catch shares they can make that determination on their own. They can get a better price for their fish.

If the Port Clyde fishermen were up this late, which I feel confident they're not, and they saw Congress debating the opportunity to take away this right that has been very successful for them, they would be shocked and angry and frustrated and down here tomorrow with their boats and their boots.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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