Tag Archives: Congress

Relief bills seek $140 million aid for California crab and salmon fishery disasters

California lawmakers introduced new legislation last week seeking to unlock $117 million in federal disaster aid for commercial fishermen and other business owners financially scarred by a series of catastrophic crab and salmon seasons threatening to upend the state’s fishing industry. North Coast representatives including Congressmen Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson, state Sen. Mike McGuire and Assemblyman Jim Wood, also have petitioned Gov. Jerry Brown to seek a disaster declaration for this year’s severely restricted salmon season, which already portends severe hardship with commercial fleets still in port.,,, Local fishermen, many of them proud and not especially trusting of government, said people who could use assistance aren’t holding their breath. click here to read the story 09:04

U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Decision on Reg That Will Put 60 Percent of New England Ground Fishermen Out of Business

On Friday, the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the District Court’s ruling last summer that a lawsuit filed by Cause of Action Institute (CoA Institute) on behalf of Plaintiffs David Goethel and Northeast Fishery Sector 13 against the U.S. Department of Commerce should be dismissed. In its opinion, the Court found that the fishermen’s suit was untimely and therefore did not consider the Plaintiff’s legal arguments that requiring fishermen to pay for monitors is against the law.  However, in a rare move, the judges highlighted the devastating economic impacts of the regulation in question, and urged Congress to clarify the law and who should pay for the at-sea monitors. “I am disappointed by the decision,” Goethel said. “But I’m hopeful that Congress will heed the Court’s direction and clarify the law. It is the government’s obligation to pay for these at-sea monitors.,, Northeast Fishery Sector 13 Manager John Haran said, “I’m disappointed that timeliness of the case was the Court’s deciding factor and not the merits of our arguments. The fishermen in my sector can’t sustain this industry funding requirement and many will be put out of business if this mandate remains in place.” click here to read the story 14:37

Congress to consider relief funds for California crab fleet as Brown proposes landing fee hike

Long-awaited federal funds to alleviate California’s crabbing fleet after last year’s dismal season could be approved by Congress as early as the next few weeks, according to California 2nd District Rep. Jared Huffman. Huffman (D-San Rafael) said Congress is set to vote on a supplemental budget appropriation to prevent a government shutdown in the coming weeks. He said he and a bipartisan group of legislators have signed on to a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urging them to include fishery disaster funds in this budget bill.,, Meanwhile at the state level, local legislators and fishing organizations are protesting Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to increase commercial fishing landing fees by as much as 1,300 percent in order to help close a $20 million shortfall in the California Department of Fish and Wildlife budget. continue reading the story here 16:09

Commercial salmon disaster funding awaiting congressional approval

When Washington’s congressional delegation pressured U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker into signing a disaster declaration for the state’s commercial salmon fishery, local fishermen were hopeful those funds would be making their way into local wallets by the middle of February. However, bitter battles concerning President Trump’s cabinet nominees have dominated Congress for more than a month, and the funding will not be distributed until Congress approves the funding and designates an entity that will be in charge of doling out the relief money. “My best guess is that until the turmoil in Congress settles down concerning President Trump’s cabinet nominations and Congress returns to a normal schedule, that’s where it will sit,” said Greg Mueller, president and executive director of the Washington Trollers Association. Continue reading the story here 08:11

Hooked Up!!! Sea lords and the secret votes that made them rich

The votes helped create the system that now allows 50 businesses and fishermen to control 81 percent of the nation’s commercial red snapper allocation. Those fishermen can make a total of $23 million every year. And the government gets nothing in return from the fishermen. “This is a public asset,” Congressman Garret Graves says. “You and I own this. The public owns this. You know, people always talk about [how] government needs to run like a business. Could you ever imagine a business saying, ‘Oh, here’s our inventory, and it’s free! You come in a grocery store, you take whatever you want.’ The vote predates Graves’ term in Washington. But last decade, Congress helped orchestrate it. The feds wanted to start what’s called an IFQ program, short for “individual fishing quota”. Fishermen would get an allocation to fish the entire year. Congress required three votes – first by a little-known public body called the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council, an 11-member body that’s primarily appointed by the five Gulf states.  After the Gulf Council vote, Congress also required two votes by the commercial fishermen who already were permitted to fish for red snapper in the Gulf. And those are the votes that the federal government won’t let us see. Video, read the story here 11:09

Hooked Up!!! Catch Share Politics – ‘Sea Lords’ hook a congressional reformer

Steve Southerland agrees: He was something of a threat to some commercial fishermen. The former Florida congressman led the effort to change a federal program (catch shares) –  unknown to most taxpayers – that allows a handful of businesses and fishermen to make millions off a government resource, creating what some fisherman call “lords of the sea.” The government essentially decides who will be a successful commercial fisherman and who will not.” And it doesn’t matter how hard you work,” Southerland says. “It doesn’t matter, you know, how much money you have to… That you’ve borrowed. It’s all based on a philosophy. And if you believed in that philosophy, then you win.” Southerland took to the floor of Congress, trying to make changes. In response, the same commercial fishermen profiting off this government resource poured tens of thousands of dollars into the campaign account of Southerland’s congressional opponent. Those same fishermen contributed additional money to a political action committee called Ocean Champions that also went after Southerland. “I think that it was a group of fishermen that worked towards that,” says Galveston, Texas commercial fisherman Buddy Guindon. “Mostly guys out of Florida. I didn’t have much to do with it. I contributed a little money to them.” Video,  Read the story here 08:25

Zeldin: Congress needs to block president’s latest Marine Monument plan

112215_jpirro_zeldin_1280Recent Marine Monument designations proclaimed by the Obama Administration have been the largest in U.S. history. In 2016, President Obama declared a 490,000 square-mile area of water in the Pacific Ocean as a National Marine Monument after receiving little public input and through a process where transparency was severely lacking. As a result of this new monument, recreational fishing was severely limited and commercial fishing was completely banned, hurting fishermen in the Pacific Ocean. Now, important fishing areas in the Northwest Atlantic, where fishermen from Greenport, Montauk, and throughout the entire New York and New England region have worked for centuries, are under consideration for a National Marine Monument designation. As the president is pushing to apply this power to large areas of ocean in the Northwest Atlantic, he is threatening to shutdown thousands of square miles of ocean from Long Island fishermen. Read the rest here 15:55

Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance fights NOAA over aqua farms

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA)  decision to approve industrial offshore fish farming last month in federally protected waters in the Gulf of Mexico is a strong concern in a “delicate and restricted estuarine system,” according to a leading non-profit fisherman’s organization. Eric Brazer, deputy director at the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, told the Louisiana Record that there are strong concerns with constructing an aquaculture facility of unprecedented size. The suit alleges that in a bid to push offshore fish farming forward without a new law permitting it, and get around Congress, NOAA created a permitting scheme through the Gulf Council by exceeding its authority to regulate fishing under the MSA. Read the rest here 09:44

WAIT!! That Coast Guard boats under 36 feet life raft rule that has you runnin’ like a fool? Its on hold!

life raft largeNew life raft regulations for fishing boats no longer required – Less than two weeks ago, U.S. Coast Guard officials were in Petersburg explaining new safety requirements announced in January: that fishing boats under 36 feet would have to carry life rafts if traveling more than three miles off shore. The law was supposed to take effect Feb. 26. Also, larger boats over 36 feet needed to upgrade their life rings or floats to life rafts by Nov. 1. But all that’s changed. “It’s all been put on hold,” said Steve Ramp, Commercial Fishing Vessel Examiner for the Coast Guard based in Sitka. He said Congress decided to repeal the change in safety requirements earlier this month. Read the rest here 19:59

H-2B guest-worker program under fire over salary discrepancies

With crawfish season just around the corner, Congress’ decision to quadruple the size of a guest-worker program might be described as a gift to Louisiana’s seafood processing industry, which struggles to fill the seasonal jobs each year. But a recent report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute says the H-2B program amounts to little more than exploitation. Although employers and their lobbyists claim there is a shortage of these skilled and semi-skilled workers, wages for the Top 15 guest-worker occupations have remained flat or fallen over the past decade, said Daniel Costa, the institute’s director of immigration and policy research and author of the report. High unemployment rates persist in the top occupations, which suggests at the national level there are no labor shortages in those fields. Read the rest here 15:53

Thomas O’Malley, of Marshfield, joins Mark Alliegro in race to unseat U.S. Rep. William Keating

fishermen do vote“There’s a lack of common sense and nothing going on in Washington,” O’Malley said Monday about what prompted him to launch a campaign for Congress. “I want to bring common sense back to government.” Creating jobs in the district, easing government rules and regulations imposed on fishermen, stopping illegal immigration and strengthening the military to be “second to none” are major issues that should be addressed, O’Malley said. “He’s probably a nice man,” O’Malley said about Keating. “But I don’t think he’s done enough for the middle class and fishermen. He’s been in lockstep with the current administration and voted for the Iran deal, which has been horrendous for the U.S.” Read the rest here 08:26

Congressman Hunter calls for a ban on some American aid tied to South Pacific Tuna Treaty

This follows the end of the treaty arrangements when the US failed to pay its first quarter levy and the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency is no longer issuing licences to fish for tuna in the island countries’ waters.Hunter wants the US Congress to stop the US Government using congressionally approved funds as aid to the Pacific countries involved – which includes all the independent island nations in the region. Congress allocates about US$21 million dollars each annually to the US State Department as part of the federal government’s  under the Tuna Treaty. Hunter said it’s important to stress economic assistance does not occur on its own; it had always been tied to United States boats fishing in the Treaty area. Read the rest here 10:59

Courtney tells congressional subcommittee that plan would bankrupt Connecticut lobstermen

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District told a congressional subcommittee Tuesday that a proposal to transfer control of 155 square miles of federally controlled ocean to Rhode Island and New York jurisdiction would bankrupt Connecticut lobstermen, including those from Stonington and other southeastern Connecticut towns. “This is damaging people’s livelihood and I think we have to be a lot more careful in terms of how we as a Congress treat federal jurisdiction and people’s rights … If the plan passes, Courtney said Connecticut lobstermen would be shut out of fishing in Rhode Island waters because they are not residents while in New York they would have to try and obtain a non-resident permit through a costly auction process. Read the rest here 10:24

Don Cuddy – Fishermen fight back against government overreach

dave goethelI attended the hearing with John Haran of Dartmouth, manager of Northeast Fisheries Sector XIII which includes 32 fishermen. Sector XIII is a plaintiff in the case along with New Hampshire commercial fisherman Dave Goethel. The all-day hearing concluded without a ruling. Federal District Judge Joseph Laplante will issue a decision in his own time after deliberating on a legal case with potential ramifications not only for the fishing industry but with respect to any government agency’s attempt to increase its own power. Steve Schwartz, an attorney with Cause of Action, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that focuses on government overreach, represents the fishermen. He told the court that the scope of an agency’s power is determined exclusively by Congress and that NOAA lacks the statutory authority to require fishermen to pay for monitors. Read the op-ed here by Don Cuddy 07:33

The NOAA Oversight Project – Fisherman’s FOIA’s Squeeze NOAA

email3From Dutch Harbor to the Old Harbor Float in Petersburg, from Gloucester and all the way round to Corpus Christi, wherever Americans untied their boats to fish in the decades since the Magnuson Act passed, fishermen had to take on science, politics, and NOAA. Some of you spent your shore time up to your knees in fish politics dividing the stock or arguing with managers about areas or days at sea. Because you engaged in politics, new generations of kids setting and hauling gear can still catch fish. Sort of– Sit down, put a mug up, and read this expose. You will be shocked. Read the article here 16:28

Members of Congress urge disaster relief for Dungeness crab fishermen

cashIn a bit of good news for California’s beleaguered crab fishermen, four members of Congress announced Tuesday they would call for federal disaster relief in the unlikely event the state’s commercial fishing season for Dungeness crab is canceled altogether.In a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, the representatives urged the governor to “stand ready” to ask to provide compensation to fishermen and businesses if the crab season — postponed indefinitely Nov. 6 because of high levels of a biotoxin called domoic acid,,, Read the rest here 06:39

Gulf officials argue for shift in managing Red Snapper fishery

635814669385764673-zales-pictureGulf Coast officials, joined by charter boat operators from Mississippi, are urging to pass legislation that would shift management of the red snapper fishery to states, saying they would do a much better job. “The fisheries management by the federal government is not a good one, especially as it relates to red snapper in the Gulf,’’ Robert Barham, secretary of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, told the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans.  “We can do a better job.” “No way shape or form do we want the states to manage our commercial and charter fisheries for red snapper,’’ Buddy Guindon said. Read the rest here 09:31

Battle to Restore Apalachicola Bay Heads to Congress

The proposal is the latest development in Florida’s 25-year dispute with Georgia and Alabama over the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system, which the three states share. It also comes as Florida is suing Georgia in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that too much water is being siphoned off upstream, damaging the economically vital oyster industry in Apalachicola Bay. Until recently, its commercial and recreational fishing industries generated $200 million a year and supported the vast majority of the local population. Read the rest here 09:57

Our View: White House putting politics ahead of fishery science

Bait Bag ObamaSomething happened Monday that made us wonder if there wasn’t finally some progress being made in fisheries management. About 150 businesses, organizations and individuals with interests in the fishing industry on the East, West and Gulf coasts expressed their support for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee work on reauthorizing the act that regulates. After years of losing battles with regulators, of finding too many deaf ears in Congress, of jaw-dropping incredulity over what appeared to be indiscriminate or capricious management that has decimated the Northeast groundfishing fleet, we thought it remarkable to read their letter to the committee chairman: Read the rest here 08:00

Congress must protect Louisiana’s shrimping industry – “Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act” (HR 1907).

Consumer Reports found banned antibiotics on samples of imported shrimp collected from the shelves of major retail chains, such as Kroger, Wal-Mart, and Costco. The illegal trade schemes that allow tainted shrimp to evade food safety laws and reach our dinner plates are the same fraudulent trade practices that jeopardize our local shrimp industry, which sources from natural, sustainable stocks that do not need antibiotics. That is why Louisiana’s shrimp consumers and,,, Read the rest here 09:49

Our View: Congress can help NOAA support groundfishermen

The science, expert experience and anecdotes shared Wednesday at a forum on groundfishing in the Northeast were quite convincing that the fisheries could be better managed. The problem comes into focus when we see how difficult it has been for NOAA surveys to deliver reliable data. UMass Dartmouth’s School of Marine Science and Technology has been able — on $450,000 of government funding — to run innovative surveys with video cameras on trawls that show a nonstop stream of fish in the bottom 6 to 8 feet of the water column. SMAST’s data suggest populations of yellowtail flounder and Gulf of Maine cod multiple factors higher than NOAA’s. Read the rest here  16:51

Fisheries management reform political, says ex-Mayor Scott Lang

CSF BOOMThe “middle layer” of the NOAA bureaucracy is not the place to go to seek reforms of a dysfunctional fishery management agency, former Mayor Scott Lang told a meeting of the Center for Sustainable Fisheries Wednesday at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. The theme of the meeting was the worsening problems with NOAA survey trawls in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank. Fishermen and scientists from the UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and technology traded accounts of wildly different results from government-run survey trawls and those conducted by the fishing boats, including a collaboration with SMAST. Read the rest here 23:25

Rep. John Fleming: Congress not going to gut red-snapper management for benefit of recreational anglers

Freshman Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) proposed an amendment in a House Natural Resources Committee meeting last week that would have transferred red-snapper management authority from the federal government to the states. Rep. John Fleming, Louisiana’s only other representative on the committee, abstained from voting on Graves’ amendment, which drew the ire of recreational fishing-industry leaders. In an interview with NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, he explained his reasons for not voting: Read the rest here 12:12

Congress Proposes Relaxing Sea Lion Protections

The Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act, a proposed amendment to the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, could soon give tribal members and government fishery managers in the Columbia River Basin authority to kill sea lions threatening endangered salmon populations. U.S. Reps Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) introduced the amendment on January 27. Read the rest here 08:41

Macaluso: Will new Congress take stance?

GMFMC SidebarUnless and until Congress changes the Magnuson-Stevens Fish Conservation and Management Act, the federal mandate with a long name, Gulf of Mexico recreational fishermen will continue to have their pockets picked. That’s because when it comes to the  management tactics and schemes, recreational fishermen have suffered far more than the commercial side. Read the rest here 09:56

Congress votes to keep USCG chopper in Newport Oregon

af5857_bd597e2a1bf84cecafda9cd4c6078a2d_jpg_srz_359_244_75_22_0_50_1_20_0WASHINGTON — Congress has voted to keep the U.S. Coast Guard air facility at Newport open through 2015, Senator Ron Wyden’s office confirmed Wednesday. The Coast Guard was preparing to close the facility, where a search-and-rescue helicopter is stationed, on December 15. Coast Guard budget cuts were blamed for the closure. Read the rest here 19:36

EPA regs hit fishing industry, unless Congress meets deadline

If the rule goes into effect, the EPA estimates it would apply to as many as 138,000 smaller vessels around the country, and about half them are commercial fishing boats. The rules would apply to, among other liquids, fish-hold effluent, bilge water, grey water, and, Curry points out, deckwash. Even runoff. Read the rest here 11:13

The Observer Program. Expanded

flameguard eagleThe US Fishing industry is the most scrutinized industry in the Nation. In another article today regarding the Mount Polley mine tailings pond dam breach, a fishermen’s representative laments, “We have fleets of boats with observers or cameras watching our every move to fish sustainably, and nobody is watching these folks as they destroy our ecosystem,”  I would like to expand the conversation regarding oversight of the regulators,,, <Read more here> 19:50

Whatever Happened to Todd Zinsers 2nd NOAA Probe? – Inspectors general say Obama aides obstruct investigations

flagandscalesZinser exposed the corruption of the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, the kangroo court of the GCL litigators and the ALJ, and had stated there would be a second investigation of NOAA rule making. We were not rewarded. Then there was the failed Swift Boating of  Zinser here. Now, this. Inspectors general say Obama aides obstruct investigations, Read more here Guess who is the first name of the IGs letter to the Oversight, and Government Reform Committee? Todd Zinser! 10:51

Fishery disaster relief a difficult effort – A Story of the Have’s, and the Have Not’s

sct logoFormer Mayor Scott Lang, who criticized NOAA for setting up a slow process, said the aid plan is becoming “a Christmas tree, trying to do too much with too little for too many people.” “Only 100 or so permit holders of the approximately 700 federal groundfish permit holders in Massachusetts would receive direct federal assistance,” Keating wrote. “The plan also neglects the crew members and supporting shoreside industries who continue to struggle to stay financially solvent as a result of the groundfish disaster.” What a mess! Read more here 07:42

Taufen: Volksverdummung’s Alive and Well in Fisheries

The Germans call the stupefaction, misleading or brainwashing of the people ‘Volksverdummung’— which seems to be well-established in the seafood industry these days. It’s been largely ushered down the regulation-making aisles by a few greedy corporations and fishermen who feel entitled, and financially assisted by major conservation (allegedly) NGOs.

Especially in the Alaska zone, the Paradox of Plenty — the reflection of a Resource Curse, lives well, and profitably so for a few winners —and those winners continues to destroy thousands of jobs for captains and fishing crews. Certainly a few Congressmen settle for nickels in campaign contributions to ignore the rights of a majority of the People.

Especially when it comes to fisheries “Catch Shares” mentality (CS), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Alaska-focused North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) — despite access to information on global failures of privatizations of public resources — continues to betray a baffling ignorance of the subject matter under discussion.

Before I get into the dispossession of fisher family opportunities, incomes, wealth and rights caused by “Enclosure of the Commons” — privatization schemes such as catch shares — or into the abrogation of the promise that no American fisherman would be charged for the privilege rights to fish, and the postured shallowness of CS proponents who exploit fear and use disaster economic lies to exploit resources, why don’t we set up some thinking ground?!  Read more here 10:43

US downgrades Thailand to lowest ranking in human trafficking index for ‘systematic failure’ to prosecute slavers

In January this year the Thai embassy in Washington signed a $400,000-plus deal with leading US law firm Holland & Knight. The money was for lobbying to persuade the White House, Congress and US Departments of State and Defence that Thailand is a country that fights human trafficking and forced labour. It seems not to have been money well spent. On Friday Thailand was downgraded,, Read more here 09:25

DeFazio-Huffman-Herrera Beutler Amendment Saves West Coast Fishermen $2.4 million

 Their amendment would suspend for a year, the collection of a cost recovery fee in the West Coast Trawl Rationalization Program and provide some relief to groundfish fishermen who are facing mounting costs at a time when they are already struggling to make ends meet. Read more here 15:39

Mixon: Congress shouldn’t try to block new individual fishing quota approach

Here in the Gulf, recreational fishing is a way of life. like me make a living helping millions of tourists and sportsmen enjoy a day or weekend of fishing. But years of failed recreational management have bled us dry, damaging the coastal economy, threatening the survival of our businesses and limiting the access of recreational anglers who don’t own their own boats.  It’s long past time for the rules,,,  Read more here 19:22

Improving the Endangered Species Act for the 21st century

Over forty years ago, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) with the noblest of intentions – conserve and recover wildlife facing preventable extinction. This is a moral obligation on which we can all agree. But with a species recovery rate of only two percent, the ESA has proven to be ineffective at protecting truly imperiled species and has unnecessarily hurt people’s livelihoods in the process. Read more here  dailycaller  11:20

Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization: Fisheries debate likely to heat up soon

seattle workshop CSF #2NEW BEDFORD — The fledgling Center for Sustainable Fisheries takes its message to Seattle, Wash. in February to stoke discussion of changes in the way commercial fisheries are regulated. The delegation will be led by Dr. Brian Rothschild, dean emeritus of the UMass School for Marine Science and Technology. He will be joined by CSF chief operating officer Kate Kramer, who told The Standard-Times on Wednesday, “People on the West Coast have different ideas about the Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization.” Read [email protected]  10:01

At What Cost, Justice – A Pyrrhic Victory? By Sean McKeon

scales_of_justice_2On November 25, 2013 Federal District Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle1  ruled that Willie R. Etheridge III and Mark Cordeiro, two men from North Carolina, were not guilty of finning sharks as presumed under a federal fishing law prohibiting shark fin-to-carcasses ratios in excess of 5%. (Shark Finning Prohibition Act) The case is interesting not only because of what it produced by way of the district court’s decision, but also, and perhaps more importantly, because of the long history that ultimately spawned the government’s prosecution of these particular North Carolinians and the political environment in which it occurred.

The highly politicized agencies of the federal government are most to blame here, in this case National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and its parents National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Department of Commerce. For an industry accustomed to bad news and never ending harassment by the very agency established to promote and protect it, the temptation might be to view this court victory in a vacuum and attach far too much optimism to its outcome. While there is certainly cause for celebration, it is important to understand the historic underpinnings of this case and the devastating impact federal agencies often have on the private sector when left unchallenged and undisciplined by those charged with their oversight, i.e. members of Congress and, in this case, the Administrative Law Court System (ALC).

Read the article here  19:54

Fishing aid gets Senate’s final OK – Editorial: Fishing aid still no long-term industry solution

gdt iconThe vote by the Senate, which followed Wednesday’s overwhelming victory in the House, means the federal government now will provide its first meaningful financial assistance to fishermen since the Department of Commerce declared an economic disaster in the Northeast groundfish fishery and elsewhere in 2012. Read [email protected]  04:44

Editorial: The ironic aspect of this disaster aid approval is that, at the start, fishermen and related waterfront businesses never wanted or reached out for government handouts in the first place. Their hands were simply forced by lopsided, heavy-handed fishing limits and enforcement tactics that were cited as excessive by the Department of Commerce’s own Inspector General’s office beginning in 2009, yet still haven’t been adequately addressed by either NOAA or its parental Commerce leadership. Read [email protected]  04:44

KEATING, TIERNEY URGE ONCE AGAIN FOR FISHERIES DISASTER ASSISTANCE

130724-Al_Cattone_244x183“Once again I join with my colleagues to strongly urge for the inclusion of fisheries disaster assistance in the FY2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill. The letter we sent adds to the verbal request I recently made to the Chairman. It is unacceptable that businesses declared to be in a state of economic disaster have been waiting for nearly 15 months for assistance. I call on House Leadership to follow the lead of Senate appropriators and secure $150 million in disaster assistance to provide relief to fishermen throughout the country,” said Rep. Tierney. Read [email protected]  11:38

Alaska Fishermen to Walmart: “Why Didn’t You Keep Your Promise to Congress?”

smiley fishermanAlaska fishermen are pledging to take further action to hold Walmart accountable for its ongoing failure to keep its promise to revise by the end of 2013 its outdated and misguided policy that is shutting out a large proportion of sustainable Alaska salmon from its stores. Read [email protected]  17:38

BP Spill Windfall Will Test Texas Conservatives

Unlike most civil penalties, which go to the federal government, Congress in the RESTORE Act has decided that the money from the BP settled will be distributed to the five states which border the Gulf of Mexico. But Daniel Rothschild, a senior fellow at the free market R Street Institute, says huge sums of money in the hands of greedy and irresponsible politicians can come back to burden taxpayers, and Texas needs to make sure that doesn’t happen. First, he says officials have to avoid the urge to create new bureaucracies which will have to be funded by taxpayers after the oil spill money is gone. “Using this to do what some have suggested to create ‘green jobs’ corps and civilian conservation corps, that is going to have long term serious ramifications for the state,” he said.  “It means more people on the government payroll, and in the future taxes are going to go up to continue to pay for it.” Read [email protected]  12:17

Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., co-sponsors bill to give exemption to fishing vessels

The moratorium addressed in the bill Jones’ cosponsored was for a federal court ruling in California in 2006 that said EPA was required under the Clean Water Act to issue permits for incidental discharges. Jones said that could include discharges of things as simple as ballast water, deck wash, bilge pump discharge, fish hold water, and laundry and shower water. Congress permanently exempted 13 million recreational vessels affected by the ruling, but approved only a temporary exemption for the 65,000 commercial and charter fishing boats and 15,000 commercial use vessels. [email protected] 23:21

Funding Sought for Commercial Fishery Failures

The letter, signed by a total of 22 members of Congress, notes five fishery failures declared by the Secretary of Commerce still in need of funds. These include the disaster declared Sept. 12, 2012, for Alaska king salmon fisheries in the Yukon River, Kuskokwim River and Cook Inlet. Also cited were the Mississippi oyster and blue crab disaster, declared Sept. 12, 2012; the Northeast multispecies groundfish fishery disaster in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York, declared Sept. 13, 2012; Superstorm Sandy fisheries impacts, for New Jersey and New York, declared Nov. 16, 2012; and Florida oysters, due to excessive drought conditions on that state’s west coast, Aug. 12, 2013. [email protected]  17:23

GDT Editorial: Warren right to note need for fishing aid beyond ‘loans’

gdt iconWhile our federal lawmakers join the push for offering federal Small Business Administrations loans to Gloucester’s and other fishermen (see news story, Page 1), it’s encouraging to hear U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren also concede that any such package would be merely be a positive first step toward the type of relief fishermen need. [email protected] 13:44

Big idea for rebuilding La. marshes sparks big bayou brawl

There was a time when the Mississippi carried hundreds of millions of tons of sediment a year from its sprawling drainage basin to the Gulf of Mexico. And most important here in southeast Louisiana: The river regularly overflowed, spreading nourishing silt into coastal marshes. That ended when Congress ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to wall off the river after the devastating 1927 flood. The levees strangled marshes, cutting off their sediment, and since then the state has lost 1,900 square miles of land, an area as large as Delaware [email protected]  16:45

Our View: Disaster relief — so close and yet so far

sct logoThe list of fisheries disasters grew last week with the addition of Florida’s oyster industry, blamed mostly on diminishing freshwater flow into Apalachicola Bay due to drought. You could plug in “groundfish,” “Massachusetts” and “warming ocean” into the news reports and hardly tell the difference. The Northeast, Alaska and Mississippi all joined the list last year, but budget talks couldn’t get $150 million in disaster funds through for the fisheries because of Republican opposition. [email protected]01:55:47

An otter mess – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Defies Congress and the law, The Otter Project announced they will be filing papers to intervene

“They’re seeing their commercial interests take precedent over everything else and I don’t believe that,” said Steve Shimek, executive director of The Otter Project. “I don’t believe the immediacy they’re portraying. They’re portraying mongrel hordes of otters are waiting in the line to eat all ‘their’ urchins and that is not the way it is.” [email protected]

Alaska Delegation Asks For Consensus Among CDQ Groups

radio-microphoneCoastal Villages Region Fund, the state’s largest Community Development Quota group, has been asking for more fish for their fishermen. It would require Congress amending the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. In response, Alaska’s congressional delegation says before pursuing changes to fishing allocations they would need a consensus. [email protected]

“The first thing we noticed was a single red snapper float by, Then, in an instant, it was a floatilla of dead red snapper as far as we could see.”

They have plenty of fishing tales to tell, but it’s a disturbing discovery last August that the Helldivers wanted to share. WTF??? [email protected]

DENIAL, DELUSION AND NMFS STILL DOESN’T KNOW ITS NAME

“Fishlink Sublegals.”-  The third “Managing  Our Nation’s Fisheries” conference was held on 6-9 May, 2013 in Washington,  DC.  Titled, “Advancing  Sustainability,” the national event, sponsored this time by the Pacific Fishery  Management Council, is in preparation for the upcoming Congressional  Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation & Management Act (MSA)  reauthorization, a law set to expire in September of this year. continuedimage

All eight of the nation’s regional fishery management councils back Magnuson flexibility

All eight of the nation’s regional fishery management councils, the grassroots panels that work with NOAA in fishery management and on regulatory rules, put themselves on record Tuesday in favor of Congress’ writing flexibility for rebuilding timelines for overfished stocks in the Magnuson-Stevens Act. continuedgdt icon

Congress eyeing changes to commercial fishing law

mainetoday.com – WASHINGTON — As Congress prepares to revisit the law governing how U.S. fishermen ply their trade, New England’s beleaguered groundfish industry illustrates the challenge of reviving a historic fishery in the face of climate change and other factors. For some, the industry’s struggle to survive is cited as proof that current federal fisheries regulations are too rigid to respond to unique circumstances. For others, the regulations are seen as the type of strong, science-based management that should have been in place decades ago. continued

Our view: NOAA shows it’s answerable to no one – It’s up to Congress not to let them get away with it. – The Salem News

But in the end, it was state Sen. Bruce Tarr who made perhaps the most telling statement, saying, “It’s time to prove the power of democracy is stronger than the power of bureaucracy.”

Why is that basic statement so telling? Because Bullard and Commerce officials proved Tuesday that Tarr was dead-wrong. That’s right, folks. All the actions, all of the pleas from officials ranging from Gov. Deval Patrick and Coakley to Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Congressman John Tierney, have achieved nothing. HEAR HEAR! NOTHING. continued

Sorry, Sen. Tarr, it’s now clear that there is no “democracy” or accountability when it comes to NOAA and America’s fisheries.

“Today,NOAA has responded to a declared disaster by creating a crisis.” NOAA sticks to cuts in fish limits

gdt icon“Want to buy a boat?” said Orlando, who fishes from the 70-foot vessel Padre Pio. “I put it up for sale. I have no choice.”  “Rather than take the true advice of the New England Fisheries Management Council, the New England states and Congress and go forward with a second Interim Rule, NOAA instead to chose deliver a ‘death’ sentence to an industry, a way of life, and local economies and communities up and down the New England coast,” Ferrante wrote in an email. “I cannot say that I am surprised, but today, we dig in and fight harder.” Damned RIGHT! continued

New England 2013 Final Rules for Framework 50, Framework 48 and Interim Final Rule for Sector Operations Plans

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This afternoon the final rules implementing final fishing measures for the groundfish fishery filed with the federal register. To view the regulations that go into effect tomorrow you can click on the links to each of the following rules.
Framework 50 implements catch limits for groundfish stocks for 2013 through 2015, as well as catch limits for the U.S./Canada stocks for 2013.  Bulletin  
Framework 48 also contains measures to enhance fishing opportunities for groundfish vessels to mitigate potential negative economic impacts from reductions in catch limits for 2013.  Bulletin  
The sector operations plans interim final rule partially approves operations plans and grants 23 regulatory exemptions for 17 fishing sectors for fishing year 2013.  Bulletin

NEFMC to ask Congress in its rewrite of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to establish a certification program for seafood

gdt iconThe council voted 16-0 at the end of its three day meeting in Mystic, Conn., to ask Congress to include in its rewrite of the Magnuson-Stevens Act language establishing a certification program for seafood — similar to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s stamp of approval for meat, according to the debate at the council. continued

Push for aid for fishery intensifies as budget process begins

WASHINGTON — Less than three months after an effort to provide a pool of aid to distressed fisheries across the nation died at the end of the last Congress, efforts to secure disaster relief funding for New England fishermen are heating up on Capitol Hill. continue reading

Tampering with our Future – Genetically engineered fish, the FDA and labeling GE/GMO foods, By Anne Mosness

The thought of experimenting with animals to create new life forms that can be patented, produced in commercial feedlots, and marketed without labeling makes most people very uneasy.,,,Consumers need to be aware that U.S. food policies are undergoing huge changes and if they have concerns, they need to contact their legislators, members of Congress and the Food and Drug Administration. The potential for negative impacts on human health, the environment, traditional food producers and businesses make transparency, safeguards and regulations very important. continue

New England groundfishermen are taking the gloves off in the fight for survival

logo175 Fishermen to Congress: Failed Government Policies Caused the Fishing Crisis, We’ve Done Nothing Wrong

 “The forced transition of our New England groundfish fishery to catch  share management and hard TACs came with all sorts of rosy promises of  resource abundance and economic stability,” they write. They also noted  that many businesses were unable to survive the transition.
 Rather than producing the promised benefits, the transfer of the  groundfishery to sector management has led to a prolonged period of  economic instability. “There is no stability. There are only repeated,  record reductions in catch limits. Prosperity is a discarded dream.”
 They blame the current state of the groundfishery on failed government  management, writing: “Three weeks ago, NMFS Regional Administrator John  Bullard told us at the Council meeting that this was our day of  reckoning. This is not our day of reckoning – we’ve done nothing wrong  to reckon. We didn’t cause this problem.” Instead, they maintain that  the government does not have the science and data necessary to properly  manage the fishery. “For too long we’ve been subjected to the volatility  and futility of pretending to know the unknowable.”
“For nearly a decade now our fishery has fished at or below every  catch limit set by the government on every stock. We lived within their  quotas, but it is now our businesses, our families and our communities  that will be paying the price.”
“Government cannot expect our industry to continue to be subjected to  drastic cuts in allowable catches while placing additional,  government-imposed expenses upon us.”
They noted that, as the current catch share management system was  being implemented, the Northeast Seafood Coalition publicly made clear  that adequate federal funding and catch allocations would be needed for  the system to properly function. They added: “Sure enough, here we are –  less than 3 years after sector implementation – and the agency is  telling us there is not enough money to monitor or enough fish to  sustain our fishery. It’s difficult for many of us to believe that this  was just a coincidence.”  Read more and read the original letters with the signing fishermen

Senators press for fish disaster aid – Northeast groundfishery, blue crab and oyster fishery of Mississippi, Chinnock salmon fishery of Alaska

”We believe that it is the responsibility of the administration, after declaring these disasters, to request the funding to respond to them,” the senators wrote. “Until funding is made available for these declarations, the affected fishermen will continue to struggle during a critical time of need. For those that are suffering and the fishing communities they live in, time is of the essence. They simply cannot wait for another funding cycle for help to arrive.”

Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Charles Schumer and Kirstin Gillibrand of New York, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Mark Begich of Alaska,Elizabeth Warren and William Cowan, Susan Collins of Maine, Thad Cochran  and Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska., Independent Angus King.

In the House, Congressman John Tierney, whose district includes all of Cape Ann, announced Friday an agreement with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on a different solution the same problem. Joining him in the initiative were Congressmen Ed Markey, William Keating, and Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, and David Cicilline and Jim Langevin, Rhode Island Democrats.

Read more here