WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With his New England Fishermen Preservation Act (H.R. 3661) today, Congressman Frank Guinta continued his effort to stop federal fees that could extinguish New Hampshire’s fishing industry. Just nine Granite State operators still fish the Gulf of Maine, where National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) regulations have reduced their catch by 95 percent, report members of Seabrook’s Yankee Fishermen’s Co-op.
New fees, averaging over $700 per vessel every few days, could cost fishermen in the region thousands of dollars monthly. “These are small, family businesses,” said Rep. Guinta (NH01), a member of the House Financial Services Committee. “Many are struggling to stay afloat, due to heavy regulations that seem to change from week to week. Fishermen up and down the Northeast could be sunk, when NOAA finally makes good on its threat.”
Rep. Guinta explained that under his bill “NOAA will continue to pay the costs of monitoring fishermen at sea, as the agency has for years.” Currently, NOAA pays contractors to accompany crews but has proposed shifting payment to fishermen themselves. The agency has shifted deadlines several times, recently from the end of October to December. In an email to congressional staff, NOAA regulators admit the change would be “economically challenging” for many.
“It’s economically challenging that an agency with a several-billon dollar budget is demanding fishermen pay its operating costs,” responded Rep. Guinta.
The New England Fishermen Preservation Act exempts Northeast fishermen from compliance with monitoring rules, until NOAA funds the program. Earlier this Congress, Rep. Guinta introduced the bipartisan Fisheries Investment and Regulatory Relief Act, which would re-direct existing federal money to U.S. fisheries and strengthen local control.