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Legal Seafoods Chairman and Environmental Affairs Secretary to Testify for Coastal Zone Management Act Reauthorization
September 8, 1995
George Berkowitz, founder and Chairman of Legal Sea Foods, Inc., and Trudy Coxe, Secretary of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, will testify before the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans on Tuesday, September 12, to support reauthorization of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act (H.R. 1965). If the Act is not reauthorized this year, it will put the states' coastal programs, including the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Program (CZM), into limbo. These hearings will be pivotal for reauthorization.
"It is wonderful that the private sector can participate in these hearings and have the opportunity to speak to the public sector about the Coastal Zone Management Act," explained Berkowitz. "This legislation is vital to strong coastal management, which is equally vital to the health and prosperity of the seafood business."
Secretary Coxe emphasized, "The main goal of the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Program is to protect natural resources in the Commonwealth's coastal zone while promoting responsible economic development. The program is currently targeting CZMA funds toward port and harbor revitalization, coastal water quality, and special coastal area preservation. Reauthorization of the Coastal Zone Management Act is essential to keep our coastal program and these important initiatives on track."
The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) is voluntary and gives states the funding and the opportunity to develop and maintain their own plans to manage coastal resources. CZMA also is flexible and enables states to develop programs and plans that meets their specific needs, within the context of their governmental structure. Finally, CZMA gives states the authority to review federal projects, and projects receiving federal licenses and permits, to ensure that they abide by state laws, regulations, and policies. Clearly, states have an interest in ensuring that these federal projects, such as offshore oil drilling or the construction of the Federal Court House in Boston, meet state standards.
Berkowitz also stated, "The tourism and shipping industries, as well as the seafood business, underscores the importance of the coast to Massachusetts' economy. I began operating the Legal Sea Foods retail market in 1950. As business grew, I opened our first restaurant in 1968. Today, the company owns and operates 11 restaurants, a mail order department, and a value-added foods division. Through these enterprises, Legal employees about 1,500 full-time employees. This is a job-creating business that needs strong coastal management. CZMA funds are not simply a cost to the federal government and its taxpayers -- they are an investment that ensures that we can enjoy our coastal resources today, while protecting these resources for our children and grandchildren."
"Fresh and uncontaminated seafood is vital to Legal's business," continued Berkowitz. "That is why I am extremely active in coastal management in Massachusetts and will go to Washington to speak on behalf of CZMA."
"Massachusetts has seized upon the opportunity provided by CZMA," explained Ms. Coxe. "The state legislature, local, state, and regional officials, and hundreds of interested citizens all worked together to make Massachusetts coastal program a reality." In 1978, the Commonwealth completed its coastal zone management plan and was the first coastal program on the eastern seaboard to be granted federal approval. Then, in 1983, the legislature established CZM (which administers the state's coastal program).
From 1978 through 1994, Massachusetts has received a total of $23.8 million in annual CZMA
grants for coastal program implementation and continued development. Currently, CZM receives
$2.5 million annually in CZMA funds. "These funds are essential for the successful operation of the
Commonwealth's coastal program," emphasized Coxe.