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August 14, 2002

Mass Fishing Partnership Proposes Priorities for Fishing Economic Assistance

BOSTON - The Massachusetts Fishermen's Partnership (MFP), an umbrella organization for 17 commercial fishing associations in the Commonwealth, will submit recommendations today to the Governor's Task Force on Economic Assistance. Congress has allocated $5.5 million in economic assistance to Massachusetts to help mitigate the impacts of the interim final rule in the Northeast Multispecies (groundfish) lawsuit, Conservation Law Foundation vs. Secretary Evans.

The recommendations are based on community meetings and a survey designed to elicit areas where economic assistance would provide the broadest benefits. MFP conducted four well-attended meetings in Gloucester, New Bedford, Boston and Chatham. Representatives of Massachusetts' congressional delegation attended all four meetings. MFP continues to survey vessel owners, crewmembers, and shoreside business owners. Copies of the survey and of the preliminary report are available on the MFP website www.mass-fish.org.

Madeleine Hall-Arber, author of the study, and Urban Affairs Planning Office director John Moynihan will join Alexander Ferent, president of the Massachusetts Fishermen's Partnership, in presenting the recommendations to the Task Force. Results to date suggest that highest priority be given to maintaining the fishing industry’s infrastructure. Unless the fishing infrastructure is supported now there will be no fishing industry in Massachusetts when the groundfish stocks are fully rebuilt. MFP will make the following recommendations:

  • The funds should be used to support debt restructuring for all sectors of the industry
  • Days at Sea must be compensated by additional appropriations.
  • Assistance should not be used to support new long-term programs . Policy changes are needed. In particular, regulatory changes should not be permitted to be imposed without fair notice.
  • Allocated funds are insufficient to compensate for the impacts of current regulations and the MFP does not wish to complicate any further legal claims of the industry.

The Partnership's work and the survey are ongoing. The interim final rule in the Northeast groundfish lawsuit affects the entire New England region, and implementing additional restrictions when stocks are recovering may be very costly both in aid dollars and in social services required.

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