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March 26, 2013

Senate hopeful carves out fishing stand

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Winslow has zeroed in on two nagging statutory imperatives that, in their violation have frustrated the fishing industry — the requirement in the Magnuson-Stevens Act that government manage the wild resources to “provide for the sustained participation” of fishing communities, and the neutering over time of a 1954 act of Congress that aimed to provide a secure revenue stream for strengthening the industry.

A state representative from Norfolk, Winslow discussed National Standard 8 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the Saltonstall-Kennedy Act in a campaign swing Sunday through New Bedford, the co-capital with Gloucester of the New England fishing community.

“NOAA must be held accountable to National Standard 8 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act,” said Winslow, who is an attorney and a former district court judge. The standard, a directive to executive and bureaucratic administrators to “take into account the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities by utilizing economic and social data ...in order to provide for tjhe sustained participation of such communities and to the extent practicable, minimize adverse economic impacts on such communities.”

Winslow also said the Saltonstall-Kennedy Act should be administered as intended when written. The law required that 30 percent of the tariff revenues from imported seafood be given in a dedicated revenue stream to NOAA, but to be spent for research and development and marketing of the domestic industry. Over the decades, the dedicated revenue stream was diverted by Congress to NOAA’s general operating budget, leaving the fishing industry high and dry. The nation now imports more than 90 percent of its seafood, the bulk of it farmed or wild caught in China.

The Northeast groundfishery, stretching from Maine to New York’s Long Island, was declared a disaster by the acting secretary of commerce last September, and the only effort to provide disaster funding for the affected communities — including Gloucester, which has lost much of its fleet and is projected to loose many more boats in the next year due to extreme cutbacks in the allowable catch, was waylaid by the House Republican leadership and the absence of any support by President Obama and the administration.

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