United States Senator Elizabeth Warren hosted a listening session today with Senator Begich (D-Alaska), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, Senator Edward J. Markey, and Congressmen John Tierney and Bill Keating on the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), which is up for reauthorization this year.
Warren, Begich, Markey, Tierney, and Keating heard from panelists including members of the Massachusetts fishing industry, shore side businesses and the local marine science community. They discussed challenges facing the fishing industry, how marine science and fisheries management systems can be improved to sustain the fishing culture and way of life for future generations, and the industry's priorities going into the reauthorization process.
"The fishing industry is a key part of Massachusetts' history, our economy, and our future," said Senator Warren. "We are at a key moment in determining what will happen with our fishermen and with our fishing communities, and we recognize the importance of good policy coming from Washington. I am very grateful to Senator Begich for taking the time to hear and learn about the various problems facing the northeast and I thank him for his pledge to work together with our federal delegation to improve Magnuson-Stevens and help Massachusetts' fishing families."
"As I've visited Gloucester, New Bedford and the Cape, I've heard the concern in peoples' voices that our centuries old fishing industry might finally be grounded, and I heard more of those concerns today," said Senator Markey. "But our fishermen have never been known to give up easily. The perseverance that the Red Sox showed in going from last to world champions is in the makeup of all the captains and crew members who make their living from the sea. By working together, we can keep this important economic and cultural industry alive and thriving for generations to come."
"Over the past several years the fishing industry in Massachusetts has faced a number of serious hurdles," said Congressman Tierney. "I thank Senator Warren for convening today's listening session to bring together members of the community to reform the policies that currently cause the fishing community so much harm. It's imperative that we continue working together to reform Magnuson-Stevens in a way that provides greater flexibility for the fishing industry and improves the science that is the foundation of fisheries regulation."
"I am very appreciative that Senators Warren and Begich hosted this important meeting, which underscored the need for common-sense solutions that we continue to hear from many stakeholders on our Federal Fishing Advisory Board," said Congressman Keating. "I continue to feel tremendous urgency to act through legislation, regulation, and critical partnerships. My urgency stems from a fear that while we work to improve fishing policies, we lose more fishermen to unfair regulations. The solutions discussed today would sustain the fishing stock while ensuring that there are fishermen still employed to benefit from it."
The MSA governs marine fisheries across the country, taking into account scientific research, resources and safety, and has been revised multiple times since its original passage in 1974. Senator Begich is Chairman of the Subcommittee that is responsible for MSA's reauthorization and is focused on hearing from stakeholders what reforms are necessary to support fisheries and address current challenges.
Additional groups represented and elected officials in attendance:
New England Fisheries Management Council
Northeast Seafood Coalition and Groundfish Fisherman
Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Association
Cape Cod Fishing Alliance
Scallop Survival Fund
School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Ocean River Institute
Center For Sustainable Fisheries
Conservation Law Foundation
Massachusetts Chapter of The Nature Conservancy
Mayor Jon Mitchell
Senate President Therese Murray
Senator Bruce Tarr
Senator Thomas McGee
Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante
Representative Robert Koczera
Representative Christopher Markey
Representative Tony Cabral
Representative Jim Cantwell