Friday, July 19, 2019

State legislators, Division of Marine Fisheries officials, and local stakeholders met last night in the Division of Marine Fisheries' Gloucester office to discuss the issue of red tide and the impact on shellfish harvesting.

This is a letter I wrote, with the support of many of my colleagues in the House and Senate, seeking assistance from the Governor.

Dear Governor Baker,

We are writing to bring to your attention the significant, adverse and ongoing impacts of shell fishing closures along a substantial portion of the Massachusetts Coast, and to seek your assistance and collaboration on behalf of the harvesters, processors and other stakeholders being harmed by the closures, which are imposed to protect the public health.

Currently the area from the New Hampshire border to Duxbury is closed to all shellfish harvesting due to the presence of bio toxins from alexandrium fundyense, commonly known as “red tide”, which pose serious health threats if ingested by humans. The current closure began on June 19th in Boston and Southward, and June 20 on the North Shore.

The length of this closure would, on its own, cause substantial economic harm to those who derive income from the Commonwealth’s shellfishery. Yet that harm has been compounded by rainfall closures which made many of the same harvest areas inaccessible for several weeks preceding the red tide closures. Still further exacerbating the situation is that these closures have occurred, and are continuing, during a time of peak demand for shellfish.

Consequently, we are writing to request that you consider every available option for state government to respond to this crisis, including but not limited to:
• Increased testing in the affected areas, to supplement the good work already being performed by the Division of Marine Fisheries on this issue, to allow shellfish beds to open as soon as it is safely possible.
• Increased and regular information sharing with industry stakeholders during the pendency of the closures.
• Exploration and deployment of resources to support those who are being impacted by the closures, such as assistance with unemployment and health insurance, lost income, product sourcing and marketing.

Thank you for your attention to this matter, and your consideration of our request. We appreciate your consistent support for our commercial fishing industry, and are available as necessary to collaborate on addressing this very serious problem.
Senator Bruce E. Tarr
Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante
Representative Bradford Hill
Representative Lenny Mirra
Representative Timothy R. Whelan
Representative Josh S. Cutler
Senator Julian Cyr
Representative Sarah K. Peake
Representative Susan Gifford
Representative William L. Crocker
Representative Lori A. Ehrlich
Representative Randy Hunt
Senator Michael J. Rodrigues
Representative Kathleen R. LaNatra
Senator Brendan Crighton
Representative Jerald A. Parisella
Representative James M. Kelcourse
Representative Dylan Fernandes
Senator Patrick M. O’Connor