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US Senator Scott Brown intends to ensure domestic fisheries receive import duties on seafood. (Photo: YouTube, USSenatorScottBrown/PEW)

Bill introduced to ensure fisheries get more funds

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

US Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) this week joined Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) in introducing the Fisheries Investment and Regulatory Relief Act (FIRRA). The legislation would ensure domestic fisheries receive import duties on seafood as originally intended by the 1954 Saltonstall-Kennedy Act, instead of letting Congress continue to increasingly appropriate these funds to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operations.

A companion bill is expected in the House by Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA) and Frank Guinta (R-NH). This legislation would make sure that key programmes crucial to sustainably managing ocean fish populations, as well as the fishers and communities that depend on them, receive larger and continuous funding.

“This legislation is a step forward for our fishing communities,” said Brown. “One way to hold Dr Lubchenco and NOAA accountable for how taxpayer dollars are spent is to make certain we are not diverting funds away from domestic fisheries.”

Brown is one of several legislators who have called for the firing of Lubchenco due to her "indifference" to the fishing industry, The Republican reports.

This bill is a way to put fishers first and help them during these difficult economic times and ensure further accountability at the agency, it was added.

It was designed to provide some USD 100 million annually for necessary scientific research, monitoring, data collection and assistance to fishers and coastal communities by redirecting a portion of existing import duties on fish and fish products to support key programmes.

Funds would be available through a competitive grant programme and would promote local priorities for sustainable fisheries management and the preservation of fishing communities, the Pew Environment Group noted.

Commercial fishing groups are celebrating these initiatives.

"For too long, we've managed our valuable fisheries on the cheap, with disastrous results,” said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. “This bill finally provides a dedicated funding source for stock assessments, research, and support for fishing communities that are essential for healthy fisheries."

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com


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