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