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November 5, 1999

Honorable William M. Daley, Secretary
U.S. Department of Commerce
14th Street and Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20230

 Dear Secretary Daley:

We write to strongly urge the re-evaluation of the emergency assistance program for Northeast fishermen. Senator Edward M. Kennedy also wrote to you on October 25th to appeal for this re-evaluation.

The Massachusetts Fishermen's Partnership (MFP) has heard very disturbing reports from numerous fishing vessels that have traditionally fished no where else but in the western Gulf of Maine, west of Jeffreys Ledge. Many of these vessels have been totally disqualified for eligibility for relief under this assistance program. A meeting with 18 fishing vessels in Rockport alone on November 3rd had only one fisherman present who has been qualified for at least 10 days of reimbursement. Eight of the vessels had received compensation for zero days. The other vessels got from two to eight days even though they never fished anywhere except in the Framework 26/27 closure areas. Our offices are receiving complaints from fishermen every day.

The MFP met on October 26th and formed the basis of our policy on this urgent matter:

  • support of Senator Kennedy's request for the program to be re-evaluated;
  • request that a formal representative of the MFP be present at the meetings where this reevaluation will be conducted and a new program designed;
  • request that none of the funds still available for this program revert to NMFS under any circumstances.

The MFP strongly recommends that a representative group of fishermen impacted by Framework 26/27 be convened as soon as possible to formulate a fair solution. The MFP requests to participate in this forum.

Many fishermen have suggested that all fishing vessels reporting fishing activity exclusively in Statistical Area 514 during 1998 and 1999 should qualify for assistance. It has been requested by members of the MFP that additional monies should be allocated from new funds designated by Congress for Northeast fisheries collaborative research to fully fund a program that would compensate all impacted fishermen fairly.

 Thank you for your response to our request.

Truly yours,
 Alexander Ferent
President

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