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Members of New England Congressional delegation support observers on herring trawlers
June 11, 2007
Just recently, Representatives James McGovern (D-MA), William Delahunt (D-MA), Edward Markey (D-MA) and Thomas Allen (D-ME) signed and submitted a letter to the CJS Appropriations Subcommittee in support of increased observer coverage on herring trawlers off New England and the Mid-Atlantic.
The letter explains that, “The limited amount of data provided by present observer coverage has given us enough information to know that bycatch in the Atlantic herring fishery can include federally regulated species of concern as well as marine mammals. Further, because herring is an integral link in the north Atlantic food web, and serves as a baitfish in the lobster industry, fishermen from many sectors want to ensure that the Atlantic herring fishery is being properly managed.”
The letter asks that the Subcommittee allocate funding of $1.5 million in FY08 to the NMFS budget specifically for observer coverage in the herring fleet.
Just last month, Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME) also wrote letters in support of increased observer coverage for the trawler fleet, asking for $1.5 million as well.
The CHOIR Coalition has been working hard over the past year to increase the level of observer coverage on herring midwater trawlers. Because of budget cutbacks, observer coverage on the trawlers has been almost nonexistent over the last few years. On average, the fleet sees less than 3% coverage, grossly inadequate for a fleet such as this that tows large nets, at high speed through Groundfish Closed Areas as well as other inshore and offshore areas.
CHOIR has made multiple trips to Capitol Hill to try and secure a funding increase for $1.5 million in NMFS’ FY08 budget to allow for adequate observer coverage for the trawler fleet.
The recent efforts by the above mentioned Congressional Members is encouraging, and hopefully others will follow the lead and speak up in support of this important issue.
CHOIR appreciates greatly these efforts by Congress.