For Immediate Release - February 27, 2014

AG Applauds $32.8 Million in Relief for New England Fishermen Under Federal Budget Plan

BOSTON – Noting the importance of protecting the future of struggling fishing communities in the Commonwealth, Attorney General Martha Coakley expressed appreciation for the allocation of $32.8 million in federal disaster relief for New England fishermen and fishing communities.

“Fishing communities in the Commonwealth have waited for some relief from the crush of federal regulations for a long time and this assistance cannot come soon enough,” AG Coakley said. “While there is still much that needs to happen to mitigate the impact of these burdensome regulations, we applaud the work of our state’s congressional delegation whose efforts led to this disaster relief being made available, and we urge them to continue their strong advocacy for our fishermen as reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act is considered. Our office will also continue to work on the state level, and through our own legal actions, to ensure that New England fishermen are treated fairly as they struggle with severe restrictions on their catch limits.” 

BACKGROUND:

AG Coakley’s ongoing efforts to advocate for the Massachusetts fishing industry, part of the Commonwealth’s historic past, is to ensure that the industry is part of the state’s vibrant economic future.

In May, AG Coakley filed suit against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for ignoring the devastating economic impact of new regulations and for allegedly using flawed science to over-restrict the Massachusetts fishing industry. On May 1, NOAA began enforcing a 77 percent reduction of groundfish allotments across the region. The suit aims to block the new regulations from being further enforced or implemented, as well as other relief to mitigate the impact.

In December, AG Coakley urged a federal court to stop new regulations of the fish stock, calling it an “existential threat” to New England’s 400-year-old fishing industry, and advocated for the fisheries disaster funding in the final Fiscal Year 2014 federal budget.

After a scathing report by the Inspector General that documented excessive and harmful enforcement actions, AG Coakley also urged Congress to pass legislation that would reimburse local fishermen for legal fees incurred while appealing those penalties. Congress has failed to pass this legislation.

In January, AG Coakley applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for approving the $1 trillion Congressional spending bill that includes $75 million in disaster relief for fishermen nationwide. The spending plan that included the fishing disaster relief passed the U.S. Senate on January 16 and was signed by President Obama on January 17. 

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