Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), senior member of the Finance Committee, today released the following statement at a Finance Subcommittee hearing entitled "Marine Wealth: Promoting Conservation & Advancing American Exports."
"Massachusetts has some of the nation's largest, most productive seafood companies, but they're at a competitive disadvantage because of the high rate of catches coming from overseas. The best thing we can do for our fishermen right now is take back control of our trade and continue our efforts to open markets. Promoting conservation while managing global seafood commerce makes sense both economically and environmentally, and it's absolutely critical to the livelihood of countless fishermen here in Massachusetts," said Sen. Kerry.
Sen. Kerry's full statement as prepared is below:
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing. Promoting conservation and managing global commerce in seafood is critical to the well being of my state and our environment.
Massachusetts is the third largest seafood-oriented economy and the sector employs over 3,300 of our people. Adding to that, sales generated from commercial fishing in Massachusetts accounted for about $4.4 billion last year, pumping much needed capital into the region.
The communities of my constituents that work in seafood are concentrated in New Bedford and Gloucester, and they have built a vibrant culture on the values of hard work and family.
We have with us today Tom Bastoni, who is based in the region and is the General Manager of the scallops division of the American Seafoods Group. I worked with him and the rest of the scallop exporting community earlier this year to overcome a potential challenge to our scallop exports in Europe. He will highlight how that case study showed the importance of coordination across federal agencies and a unified position on exports from the Administration and Congress. I want to take this opportunity to thank USTR and the USDA for their hard work and excellent advocacy in Europe on that issue.
Massachusetts has three of the country's largest seafood processors -- American Pride Seafoods in New Bedford, FPI in Danvers, and Gorton's in Gloucester. And while they started out packing solely domestic product, they have increasingly turned to imported products to keep their operations running and meet customer's demands.
It is estimated that more than 70% of the fish processed in our plants here now comes from overseas. And as the U.S. seafood community continues to mature, more companies see the ties between their export and import needs. For them to succeed, we need to act as true "partner" on seafood trade or our export potential will be diminished by retaliatory measures. That is why I am supporting rules based trade and continued efforts to open markets in an environmentally sustainable manner. And I have some questions building on that theme.