Today, Congressman John Tierney released the following letter to Secretary Penny Pritzker requesting that she travel to Gloucester to meet with and hear from local fishermen and industry stakeholders about the difficulties they are facing. Tierney will also join Congressman Keating and the Massachusetts delegation later today in requesting an immediate meeting to discuss the action needed to strengthen and protect our fishing industry.
Dear Secretary Pritzker,
Congratulations on your recent confirmation as the country's 38th Secretary of Commerce. I look forward to working together to address a number of important issues facing our nation's fishermen.
I join my colleagues from Massachusetts in extending to you an invitation to discuss with us the importance of finding short and long-term solutions to the economic situation facing fishermen and their families in Massachusetts. As is clear, fishermen in Massachusetts, and throughout New England, are facing unprecedented cuts to critical groundfish stocks including a 78% cut to Gulf of Maine cod and a 61% cut to George's Bank cod. These cuts are particularly difficult for small-boat fishermen in Gloucester, some of whom are facing the loss of their homes and their livelihoods.
My colleagues and I have been working to provide urgently needed financial assistance to these fishermen and the affected communities. We submitted a number of amendments to last year's Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, which would have provided over $100 million to assist affected fishermen and shore-side businesses. Most recently I introduced legislation that would make use of existing funds directed to the Department through tariffs on imported fish products. I believe the Department can, and should, direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to use these funds immediately to provide relief. Unfortunately, I have been disappointed that the Department has not done more to support these efforts, despite recognizing the urgency of the matter through last year's declaration of a fishery resource disaster.
With this in mind I respectfully request that you travel to Gloucester to meet with and hear from local fishermen and industry stakeholders about the difficulties they are facing. I also believe it is critical that fishermen in my district hear from you regarding the Department's plans to address the current crisis and ensure stability for the industry in the long term.
I appreciate your consideration of this request and look forward to working with you on these important issues.
John F. Tierney
Member of Congress