WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Frank Guinta (NH01) is demanding answers from a federal agency threatening to impose new fees on struggling Granite State fishermen, already coping with a dramatic reduction of their catch, due to government regulations. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed shifting the costs of its at-sea monitoring program to fishermen themselves in December, after pushing the date several times.
“Where does the agency keep finding money to delay enforcement of a measure it recognizes could put New Hampshire’s last remaining fishermen out of business?” asked Rep. Guinta, sending a letter to NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan today. He wants to know whether there could be another deadline extension coming and why the fishing industry must eventually pay to contract monitors, now NOAA’s responsibility.
“This agency has an almost six-billion dollar budget but is ordering small, family businesses to pay its expenses,” said the Congressman. Manchester’s former two-term mayor and a member of the House Financial Services Committee added, “I have yet to hear a sufficient explanation. There are a lot of unanswered questions about this policy change, which could wipe out fishermen not just in New Hampshire but around New England.”
Rep. Guinta introduced The New England Fishermen Preservation Act (H.R. 3661) last week to halt enforcement of NOAA’s order until the agency funds the at-sea monitoring program. “Considering how many times NOAA has delayed enforcement of new fees that will cost New England fishermen thousands of dollars each month, it’s reasonable to ask the agency to re-evaluate its finances. So far, it has underestimated its ability to pay and overestimated Granite State fishermen’s ability to comply with more heavy regulations.”
In his letter, the Congressman asks if NOAA has measured the potential economic impact of shifting costs onto fishermen. He writes to Administrator Sullivan, “New Hampshire is home to a centuries-long fishing legacy, and along with Granite Staters I represent, I would like to see the industry not only survive, but thrive.” Rep. Guinta urges NOAA to collaborate with local citizens and their state and federal representatives. His letter is attached.