Governor Deval L. Patrick
Fishing Aid Announcement
June 9, 2008
As Delivered

On Monday, June 9, 2008, Governor Patrick joined state and regional officials and local fishermen to announce the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has approved the state's plan to distribute $13.4 million in federal disaster relief to the Commonwealth's struggling commercial groundfish fleet - delivering aid to fishermen harmed by federal restrictions on groundfish harvesting by the end of August.

Governor Patrick:

I'm very, I'm very pleased to be here with local officials and with all of you to bring some good news. Somebody said to come on down to the pier anytime especially when you bring a check. Today we have a check.

Commercial fishing is a vital part of our economy and our history in Massachusetts, and certainly that is something the Lieutenant Governor and I fully appreciate. Very, very soon after we took office, we had a visit with many of you from the industry, representatives from... who represent districts with fishing interest in them who came in who talk about the ways in which this industry has been dealing with enormous pressures in recent years.

The new federal restrictions put in place two years ago cut available insured groundfishing days in half. And that reduction was on top of restrictions previously, all of which compounded to have a disproportionate impact on Massachusetts vessels as compared to fleets elsewhere in the region, resulting in the 22 million dollar loss to the industry, and leaving Massachusetts fishing families struggling to afford health care, fuel, and groceries.

I am very pleased to announce today the approval 13.4 million dollars in federal funding for the families and the business and communities of our ground fishing industry. This financial relief, [applause] it's worth applause, it's been a long time coming and we have worked very hard, in partnership with everyone here on this dais and those represented by those here to get it. I met, I have mentioned a minute ago, with a large delegation from the fishing community not long after I took office last year.

[A plane is heard overhead] You know Tom; these are your flight paths.

We heard there are counts of the real life impact of these restrictions. We sought relief through Secretary Gutierrez, the [U.S.] Secretary of Commerce, documenting the extent of the finical disaster in our ground fishing. But frankly, the Bush administration turned a deaf ear.

Not so our Congressional Delegation. We worked with them to get through legislation, the funds our fishing communities deserved a great example of team work between state, and local, and federal officials. And that's what brings us here today, ready to start to take applications certifying eligibly and getting money in the hands of those who need it. So I would like to say a very special thanks to our partners. To Senator Kerry and Senator Kennedy to Congressmen Frank and Tierney and Delahunt as well as the rest of the Congressional Delegation who helped to secure this necessary relief. And let's pause and give them around of applause. Thank you Senator.

The program we are announcing today has three components. 11.3 million dollars will go towards direct subsidies ground fishing vessels, helping them to remain in business and sustain our fishing economy. 750 thousand dollars will go towards direct subsides to individual crew members. And 634 thousand dollars will be used to fund a health insurance program for crew members and their families.

I want to thank Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles and Bill White from his office. Department of Fish and Game Commissioner. Mary Griffin who is here. DMF Director Paul Diodati. Where are you Paul? I saw you a minute ago, there is Paul.

Pat Cloney. Pat Cloney from the Massachusetts Office of Business Development and Dan Georgianna from UMass Dartmouth, excuse me, who took input from the industry and developed the plan for getting this founding where it is needed.

My administration is all about expanding opportunity. That is why we are here. We are trying to do that throughout every region and every sector of the economy. In the context of the fishing industry that means working together to develop a sustainable and more reasonable regulatory framework to preserve and to harvest our fish stocks. We look forward to working with our congressional delegation with the local leadership and our fishing community to deliverer on that need.

Until we have that better framework we will continue to do whatever we can to support fishing families and this industry and those who depend on it. My thanks to Senator Kerry and all the members of the delegation again for being such wonderful partners in this and so many important initiatives. Thanks for having me today and good luck everybody.

Lieutenant Governor Murray

There have been several meeting in the Governor's office with Governor Patrick leading those meetings. This is one of many issues I can say first-hand the Governor has gotten into the weeds of Frameworks 42 and trying to understand the ramifications of what that means for our working ports. As Senator Kerry said, so much of identity our history and culture in Massachusetts is linked to the sea with over 1500 miles of coastline.

But it is not only part of our history and our past. All you need to do is talk to Mayor Lang and Mayor Kirk, Senator Tarr and Representative Verga. For a number of our communities across the state it is a key part of their economy and their future hopes and aspirations of creating new opportunities that the Governor talked about.

And so after the great work of our federal delegations, Senator Kerry and Kennedy and the rest of the team, this money was secured as Secretary Bowles indicated we help the meeting in New Bedford to get input. From the people in the community from Gloucester, Salem, Fall River, New Bedford, Boston, and all the smaller ports as well, to understand how we can distribute this money in a way that is fair and equitable. As we continue the work to try to bring about a more logical system as Senator Kerry pointed out, and which Governor Patrick is pushing for, a more scientific approach to this that will allow our fishing boats to get out there and do the work they done for generations which is so important to the working ports and the economy of our state. So great work, but a lot more work to do and we're excited to be a part of it.

Senator John Kerry

I have had the privilege now for 24 years of working on this issue. I've been chairman of the fishery subcommittee and I am still on the fishery committee and number on the three on the Commerce Committee which has jurisdiction over this. And I'll tell yea. Sometimes when we sit down with Secretary of Commerce, this and other administrations it's hard to get them to realize they even have fishing in their jurisdiction and it's been a struggle, as Angela and everyone knows, to get the administration to listen to fishermen, to listen to the people that are out there and to do the hard work of getting the science to make decisions that are based on science, not just bureaucrat input and whim and fancy.

I have been down to this pier when we had maybe 80 boats, 75-80 boats working down here and now we're down to a few. And for years I have been trying to warn people there is much money chasing too few fish in an unmonitored way. We had fishing fleets coming up from North Carolina and elsewhere fishing out our local fishing. This is not just a business; this is a way of life. And its part of the history and the culture of our state. And I want to see the small fishermen the individual fisherman and the smaller fishing communities survive particularly given this balance between fishing stocks and the amount of fishing effort. Rather than these major fleets coming in here and literally strip mining our oceans, our bays and our estuaries.

In many cases today we have big fishing fleets coming in and there's not sufficient monitoring of what's going on. And I have seen trawlers out there with the old drift nets and dragging, doing things that are, and throwing away a by-catch that is just completely in defiance of common sense. Now there is another issue these captains have today and their crews in all fishing community.

The price of oil is killing them. The price of oil in terms of a trip is driving up the cost of fish. And people are feeling pain. So they are eating out less. So you get caught into a spiral downwards, and we've got to address that. This administration has been faster and quicker in more ready to help a Bear Sterns than they have a fisherman. And I'm glad we where able to push back against them. And tell them that we are just not going to give tax breaks to millionaires in this country. And we fight that, but we are going to help the folks who help build our communities and that our part of the culture and history in our communities.

This money, I hate to say it, and I thank the Patrick-Murray administration. Governor Patrick got this ball rolling, when the requested the help over a year ago. And that help was then turned down. And that's when we kicked in. We thought it would be a pretty normal thing. To have them declare a disaster assistance and help people out because they do it all the other time for their rest buddies and cronies. But no, they didn't, they said no. So we kicked into gear and particularly Senator Kennedy and Congressman Tierney and obviously Barney Frank and Delahunt and John Tierney over in the House really carried the ball. And we are grateful to him for that partnership because nothing happens as you know in the Congress unless both The House and The Senate ultimately make it happen.

This money is critical, and this money will help alleviate some of the pain of that additional food and fuel cost. It will also try to make up for the difference of 50% of the fishing effort being cut as a result of these federal regulations. And what we learned years ago, with striped bass down on our coast, we actually put a ban in place for 10 years on any fishing at all. People groaned and moaned said it was going to be terrible. What happened? The fishing came back, and now people can go out and catch a striper, both commercial and otherwise. Because we got it back into balance.

And that's what we are trying to do here. And we have to look to the future, not just today. We want a viable fishing industry in place so that as the stocks come back with the proper management we have a fishing industry that is ready to pick up where it left off. That's what this is all about folks. This is where government can actually play the best in the most important kind of role and I am very, very pleased that Ted Kennedy and John Tierney and the Congregational Delegation joined together to help deliver this money and ultimately is what we want is a viable fishing industry here that remains a part of the fabric of Massachusetts's life on a daily base and I'm confident if we are smart we can make it happen. Thank you.