IN RESPONSE to recent Boston Globe stories on politicians wanting federal money to pay for fishing observers and the unfair burden it would be on struggling fishermen to pay for them:
For centuries, Massachusetts’ fishermen have played a vital role in our coastal economy, providing our families with food and our communities with revenue. The last decade, in particular, has again demonstrated the grit and perseverance of this historic industry, with changes in regulations, decreasing stocks, and rising fuel costs.
A comprehensive monitoring program is an important tool for collecting essential catch information for managing fisheries. At the end of the day, it is the fishermen who will benefit most from robust and thriving fisheries. However, the majority of the industry is simply unable to cover the costs.
I have worked with my colleagues in Congress and Governor Baker to urge the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to continue to fund the observer program and not shift the burden onto the industry. In the meantime, as discussion continues over the use of Bin 3 groundfish disaster money as an interim solution, this option should not absolve NOAA of its responsibility to deal with this issue both in the short- and long-term.
There are long-term solutions to this problem, including investing in cost-effective alternatives such as the wide-scale adoption of the use of cutting-edge technologies that allow for electronic monitoring. In the meantime, NOAA must find a way to support this historic industry and not bankrupt it with bills that they cannot afford.