Warren seeks aid for state’s fishermen

Senator says catch limits have led to ‘a disaster’

Senator Elizabeth Warren is joining other Massachusetts elected officials in pressing for more relief for the state’s fishing industry, which she said has been harmed by catch limits imposed by the federal government.

‘‘It’s not a disaster because the fishermen did anything wrong,’’ Warren said. “It’s a disaster because they followed exactly what the government asked them to do.’’

Warren also said she is not comfortable with the science the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has relied on to set catch limits.


Warren made her comments following a hearing at the State House on Monday. She was joined by fellow Senator Edward J. Markey, other elected officials, and industry representatives.

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New England fishermen said the industry faces collapse because of the limits, which reduce the cod catch to just a fraction of its historical totals.

The catch reductions that went into effect May 1 include a 78 percent year-to-year reduction in quota on cod in the Gulf of Maine and 55 percent on yellowtail flounder in the Gulf of Maine and Cape Cod region.

Last week the federal Small Business Administration announced it would provide disaster loans to fishermen, and Warren said she is hopeful the aid can survive budget negotiations in Washington.

In September, Governor Deval Patrick officially certified that Massachusetts fishermen who chase bottom-dwelling groundfish had suffered ‘‘substantial economic injury.’’


The State House session came as Congress weighs reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the law that regulates fishing in the United States.

Senator Mark Begich, an Alaska Democrat and chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, also attended the session.