Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fighting for Our Fishermen

Today I distributed the following press release:

Tarr, Ferrante Secure Major Fish Amendments to FY’14 State Budget
Measures Will Boost Fishing Industry, Provide Invaluable Science and Research

Boston- The $34 billion Fiscal Year 2014 State Budget approved by the legislature Monday, July 1st contains valuable measures to boost the Commonwealth’s commercial fisheries that were secured through the efforts of Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and State Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) with several key legislative colleagues.

            Among the measures contained in the budget sent to Governor Patrick this week is an important change to state laws that would allow Massachusetts dealers to process and sell shell-on lobster tails, a practice currently prohibited and putting the Massachusetts lobster industry at a severe competitive disadvantage.  Senator Tarr joined with Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich) in amending the Senate Ways and Means version of the FY’14 State Budget to expand the Commonwealth’s lobster industry.  Changing the law will allow the state’s harvesters, processors, and dealers to capture markets now being lost to competitors from places like Maine and the Canadian maritime.

            “Opening the door to the global market for lobster tails will give the Massachusetts lobster industry a level playing field with major competitors, and create a major opportunity for those who depend on this important fishery,” said Senator Tarr.

            “This is an important step that can benefit lobstermen keeping them competitive in the global economy,” said Representative Ferrante, who supported a similar lobster tail proposal offered by Representative William Strauss (D- Mattapoisett) and Representative Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown) during the House budget debate in April.

            A second important amendment secured by Tarr and Ferrante in the budget provides funding for critical research to identify, sequence, and catalog the genome for cod fish by Gloucester Genomics Initiative.  Understanding the genetic code of individual species of cod and other groundfish will allow better science to be developed to regulate those species, and to combat crushing federal regulations that are devastating the New England groundfish industry.

            “This genomic research has the power to transform fisheries science and to replace uncertainty and speculation with facts and a common understanding.  That understanding will cause reasonable regulations to be developed to ensure that stocks are rebuilt and the industry can survive,” said Senator Tarr.

            “This research has the potential to answer an important question to fisheries management: whether the stocks, such as Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank cod, are interrelated or all one species. The answers to this question could greatly impact the future of fisheries management,” said Representative Ferrante.

Another measure sponsored by Senator Tarr and Representative Ferrante creates a plan to use sonar and other advanced technologies to accurately measure the biomass of stocks such as cod and Yellowtail Flounder, which are being used as barometer stocks in the newest federal fishing regulations that took effect on May 1 and call for reductions in catch of as much as 77%.  The state budget funds the implementation of the plan at $75,000.

“Putting sonar technology to work will provide us with a clear picture of the size and location of the groundfish stocks that our commercial fishing industry depends on, and thus drive better, more practical and productive regulations to manage those stocks,” said Senator Tarr.

“It’s about time we include cutting edge technology to enhance arcane technology in measuring fish stocks. My hope is that NOAA science will work with the Commonwealth to provide the best information for small businesses affected by their regulations and decisions,” said Ferrante.