Massachusetts Governor Says Federal Fishing Rules Create Economic Disaster
BOSTON -- Massachusetts' governor on Monday requested federal relief for Massachusetts commercial fishermen, saying new fishing limits have caused "a true economic disaster" and cost the industry $22 million (euro16.45 million) in the state famed in the United States for its seafood.
Gov. Deval Patrick wants the U.S. commerce secretary to designate a "fisheries resource disaster" for Massachusetts, the first step in obtaining emergency relief that could help the groundfishing fleet survive until stocks rebound.
"Everyone agrees that the stocks of groundfish in the waters off the coast of Massachusetts need to be replenished," Patrick wrote. "Everyone also agrees that the fishing industry needs to remain part of the life of the commonwealth. The revenue declines experienced by fishing communities represent a true economic disaster."
Rules passed last year to protect vulnerable groundfish stocks such as cod and flounder severely limited the number of days available for commercial fishing.
Patrick's letter to Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez said the 18 percent decline in revenues of Massachusetts groundfish vessels in 2006 compared with 2005 is greater than the decline that prompted declaration of a fishery resource disaster in 1994.
The industry has benefited from such disaster declarations in the past. President Clinton announced $30 million (euro22.43 million) in emergency funding to the Northeast fishing industry and affected communities in July 1995 following the collapse of commercial fisheries. Another $25 million (euro18.69 million) followed a year later, distributed mainly through economic development programs.
Source: Associated Press