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Sens. Kerry, Snowe, Rockefeller, Brown, and Whitehouse Introduce Bill Supporting Fish, Coastal Communities; Reps. Frank and Guinta Expected to Introduce Companion Bill in the House

Conservationists, Fishermen Back Exclusive Funding Source for Ocean Fish Management

WASHINGTON, March 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pew Environment Group commended Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), John D. Rockefeller (D-WV), Scott Brown (R-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today for introducing the Fisheries Investment and Regulatory Relief Act (FIRRA). A companion bill is expected in the House by Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Frank Guinta (R-NH). This bipartisan legislation would ensure that key programs critical to sustainably managing ocean fish populations, and the fishermen and communities that depend on them, would receive increased and sustained funding.

The bill would provide approximately $100 million annually for much-needed scientific research, monitoring, data collection, and assistance to fishermen and coastal communities by redirecting a portion of existing import duties on fish and fish products to support key programs.

"This legislation is long overdue—and we applaud Sens. Kerry, Snowe, Rockefeller, Brown, and Whitehouse for introducing it," said Lee Crockett, Pew's director of federal fisheries policy. "Our nation will finally have a secure base of funding exclusively for fisheries-related initiatives."

Funds would be available through a competitive grant program and would promote local priorities for sustainable fisheries management and the preservation of fishing communities. Multi-stakeholder regional committees, authorized by the bill and appointed by the nation's eight fishery management councils, would develop plans to identify priorities for investment in each region. The committees would use those priorities to evaluate and recommend grants for funding. The secretary of commerce, who oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, would have final approval of the plans and decisions regarding the grants.

"The working men and women of America's West Coast commercial fishing industry strongly support the FIRRA," said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. "For too long, we've managed our valuable fisheries on the cheap, with disastrous results. This bill finally provides a dedicated funding source for stock assessments, research, and support for fishing communities that are essential for healthy fisheries."

"The strength of Senator Kerry's bill is that it puts the decisions about what fisheries projects to fund in the hands of local fishermen and scientists who bring their regional perspectives and expertise to the issue," said John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association.

"For-hire captains provide millions of recreational fishermen with access to U.S. fisheries every year, and these anglers spend millions on travel, lodging and food in coastal communities," said Michael Miglini, the Executive Director of the Gulf-based Charter Fisherman's Association. "Yet, due to the tough economic climate and environmental threats like the 2010 Gulf oil spill, many of our businesses face an uncertain future. This bill will help by redirecting existing funding into the hands of local managers and fishermen so they can support the science necessary to make sound decisions that will increase fishing time, improve businesses, and ensure sustainable fisheries."

The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a nongovernmental organization that works globally to establish pragmatic, science-based policies that protect our oceans, preserve our wildlands, and promote clean energy. For more information, visit www.PewEnvironment.org.

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA) is the largest west coast trade association representing commercial fishermen and women. For nearly the last 30 years, PCFFA has been leading the industry in assuring the rights of individual fishermen and women and fighting for the long-term survival of commercial fishing as a productive livelihood and way of life. For more information, please see http://www.pcffa.org/.

The Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association is a nationally recognized, non-profit organization that works to develop and implement creative solutions that promote healthy marine ecosystems, strong fishing businesses and thriving coastal communities. It is taking action now to make sure there are fish and fishermen for future generations. Learn more and support local fishermen at www.ccchfa.org.

The Charter Fisherman's Association (CFA) was formed by a group of Charter for Hire fishermen for the Charter for Hire industry and the millions of recreational fishermen who rely on the industry across the Country. The fundamental goal of the CFA is to achieve sustainable and accountable status for our fisheries in a way that will increase all user groups' access to our nation's natural resource. For more information, visit http://www.charterfisherman.org.

Contact: Dave Bard, 202-486-4426, dbard@pewtrusts.org

 

 

 

SOURCE Pew Environment Group

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