“Slapping further government restrictions on fishermen would be a crippling blow for the very people who have already suffered so much. We can’t let that happen. ”
(WASHINGTON – MAY 11, 2011) U.S. Representative Frank Guinta (R, NH-01) has introduced The Bluefin Tuna Fishermen Employment Protection Act,” his second major piece of legislation in Congress. H.R. 1806 would amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973, to provide that Bluefin Tuna may not be treated as an endangered or threatened species.
“The fishing industry is vitally important to the economic health of New Hampshire’s seacoast,” Guinta said. “Slapping further government restrictions on fishermen would be a crippling blow for the very people who have already suffered so much. We can’t let that happen. The livelihood of Granite State fishermen, plus many others who depend on that industry for their livelihood as well, is on the line. We must not let them down.”
Guinta explained that the bill is a proactive measure aimed at preventing federal officials from ruling that the Bluefin Tuna should be covered by the Endangered Species Act. Such a decision would devastate fishermen along the East Coast and into the Gulf of Mexico.
According to New Hampshire’s Fish and Game Department, commercial fishing had an economic impact of $17.3 million in the state in 2009. At that time, there were 516 commercial fishermen, with 5,023 workers directly involved in the state’s seafood industry.
New Hampshire fisherman have been hampered in recent years by federal catch shares that have limited the tonnage of Groundfish they can harvest. As a result, many fishermen are relying more on catching Bluefin Tuna to supplement their declining income. Restricting that catch would be financially devastating.
“I have visited the Yankee Fisherman’s Cooperative in Seabrook,” Guinta said. “I’ve met with the people who work the boats, and who process and sell the daily catch. I’ve talked with small business owners whose companies support the fishing industry. They all told me about the deep economic hardship they have endured because of catch share restrictions imposed in the last few years. The fishing industry simply cannot handle any additional government overregulation. It’s time to protect fishermen’s jobs and to safeguard this important sector of coastal New Hampshire’s economy.”
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources for consideration.