January 14, 2014

Mass. Congressional Delegation, Governor Applaud Fishing Disaster Relief

Washington, DC – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and Representatives John Tierney (MA-6), Stephen Lynch (MA-8), Niki Tsongas (MA-3), Bill Keating (MA-9) and Joe Kennedy III (MA-4) today applauded the announcement that $75 million has been appropriated for national fishing disasters. The Massachusetts congressional delegation for months has been urging the Administration and the Appropriations Committees’ leadership in both chambers to support Massachusetts’ struggling fishermen.

“This federal disaster assistance will provide much-needed relief to our local fishermen who are struggling the most to make ends meet, and I am grateful to Chairwoman Mikulski for her hard work to secure this funding in the final appropriations agreement,” said Senator Warren. “Although this aid won’t ease all the hardships the fishing industry faces, it will provide long-overdue support to fishing communities dealing with devastating catch share cuts. I will continue fighting to make sure Massachusetts’ hardworking fishing families have the support they need during these tough times.”

"‎This is much needed relief for fishermen in Massachusetts, and I will continue to fight for more assistance to help the fishing industry that is so vital to New England's economy and culture,” said Senator Markey. “This fight to restore the Massachusetts fishing industry continues, but this is a good day for our fishing industry and shows that when we work together, we can still make the government serve the people. Acquiring these funds was one of my top priorities during this budgetary process, and Senator Warren, John Tierney, Bill Keating, Stephen Lynch and the entire Massachusetts delegation, along with Governor Patrick and Attorney General Coakley, have done incredible work to achieve this victory for fishermen.”

“I am grateful for the commitment of our Congressional delegation to the Commonwealth’s fishing community and for the support of the Obama administration,” said Governor Patrick. “While there is still more work to do to ensure the long-term sustainability of this valued industry, this funding will bring much-needed relief to the many Massachusetts families that rely on the its success.”

“For nearly 15 months, my Massachusetts colleagues and I have been fighting to provide critical disaster assistance for our fishermen and their families. I am incredibly pleased and proud to announce that $75 million in fisheries disaster aid has been included in the final Fiscal Year 2014 spending bill. This is tremendous news for fishermen and their families in Gloucester and throughout Massachusetts who have been struggling to make ends meet and waiting a long time for this critical relief. I also strongly support the appropriators’ final decision to halt efforts to close the Gloucester-based Northeast Regional Office. Hundreds of jobs as well as a critical link between the industry and NOAA will remain as a result of this decision,” said Congressman John Tierney.

“I am very pleased that $75 million in funding for fishery disaster relief has been included in the FY2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill,” said Congressman Lynch. “A strong and viable fishing industry is vital to the economic well-being of the coastal communities of Massachusetts. The Northeast Multispecies Groundfish Fishery was declared a federal fisheries disaster area in September of 2012, and has long been in need of economic relief. I will continue to fight alongside the other Members of the Massachusetts Delegation to ensure that this funding is directed towards providing relief for the communities in the 8th Congressional District and across coastal Massachusetts that have been impacted.”

“Massachusetts’ fishing families are a cornerstone of our state’s economic and cultural foundation, with a grit and determination reflective of the New England spirit,” Congresswoman Tsongas said. “This much needed assistance will support these hard-working men and women and their local economies that were hit hard in the wake of a federally declared economic disaster.”

"Finally, nearly eighteen months since the Northeast groundfish fishery was issued a disaster declaration, Congress has appropriated funding to mitigate the burdens of the 2013 fishing year,” said Congressman Keating. “Our delegation has remained unified and committed to securing this indispensable assistance. As representative of the heart of this historic industry - from the Port of New Bedford to the piers of Provincetown - I remain committed to ensuring that our fishermen not only receive the reparations they deserve but that these investments advance scientific innovation and dynamic policies that drive this industry forward." 

“Along the coast of our Commonwealth, fisheries have been and will continue to be a critical industry in our state’s economy,” Congressman Kennedy said. “The disaster relief funds included in the appropriations bill will greatly assist fishermen and their families, their businesses, and fishing communities as they work to rebuild and recover.”

In September 2012, a federal fisheries disaster was declared for Massachusetts. Significant cuts were made to the groundfish catch allocations of Northeast fishermen, and small businesses and families have struggled to make ends meet due to the strict limits. In response to calls for help by the Massachusetts congressional delegation, the Small Business Administration also made a series of low-interest loans available to qualifying fishermen affected by the disaster. Under the agreement, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s office in Gloucester will stay open.