June 24, 2016

Markey, Warren, Keating, Lynch and Moulton Welcome Additional Funding for New England At-Sea Monitoring

Washington, DC - Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and Congressmen Bill Keating, Stephen F. Lynch and Seth Moulton today welcomed the announcement that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has found additional money to fund the At-Sea Monitoring (ASM) Program for New England's groundfish industry.

As Massachusetts groundfish fishermen continue to experience financial strain due to reductions in annual catch limits, the additional burden of monitoring costs furthers the financial hardship. Today, NOAA announced their intent to fully fund the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM) monitoring program, allowing additional funds to be used to reimburse some of the ASM costs that were recently shifted to the groundfish fishermen of Massachusetts.

While the additional funds are a welcomed step towards address the financial strain of monitoring costs, NOAA explicitly states that funds should not be anticipated for future fishing years. A long-term solution for the sustainability of the monitoring programs must continue to be a top priority of the agency.

"Ensuring effective, efficient and affordable monitoring for the New England groundfish industry is vital for their continued success," said Senator Markey. "This announcement for additional funding for monitoring this fishing year is good news. However, we must identify long-term solutions that work for fishermen, maintain accountability and support the management needs to ensure a sustainable groundfish fishery."

"I'm glad that NOAA finally made the right decision. Hardworking fishermen struggling through the ongoing fisheries disaster shouldn't be forced to bear the burden of at-sea monitoring costs, and this federal funding will provide Massachusetts' fishing families some relief," Senator Warren said. "But the excessive cost of monitoring still poses a real challenge for fishermen going forward, and NOAA needs to work with the industry to find a solution."

"I am encouraged by today's announcement, which will certainly help to address the concerns and needs of the industry in the near future," said Congressman Keating. "In the meantime, I remain committed to working with my colleagues in Congress, as well as at the state and local level, to ensure that we find a long-term solution to a lasting problem. Repeatedly, we have called for further investments in technologies and more efficient monitoring practices, and I look forward to seeing these priorities to fruition."

"I am very pleased that additional funds are available to assist our hard-working fishermen with the costs of at-sea monitoring," said Congressman Lynch. "I will continue to work alongside my colleagues in Massachusetts and across New England to advocate for a long-term solution to this funding problem. Our fishermen should not be saddled with the worry that at-sea monitoring costs may fall on their shoulders in the future."

"This additional funding provides major financial relief for our hardworking fishermen and their families," said Congressman Moulton. "NOAA's announcement, coupled with recently adopted reforms to the ASM program will enhance cost efficiencies, improve the science that determines observer coverage rates, and provide much needed economic stability for our fishermen. However, this provides only temporary support, and my colleagues and I remain committed to finding long-term solutions to protect our fishing industry."

In January 2016, members of the Massachusetts delegation sent letters to NOAA's Administrator Kathryn Sullivan expressing concern over the increased monitoring cost for fishermen already struggling with low annual catch limits for cod, and encouraged efforts to reduce the cost burden on the New England groundfish industry.