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July 23, 2013

Fishery budget bill gets mixed reviews

Locals back research, aid; decry pulling NOAA office

Officials and fishery advocates at various levels in Gloucester and across the state say they’ll fight a provision in a U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee bill that would break apart the Gloucester’s Northeast Regional headquarters of NOAA, but they and other agencies are on board with a measure in the same budget bill that would make force NOAA scientists to work with fishermen on stock assessments.

Mayor Carolyn Kirk issued a letter to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey Monday, thanking them for the support of the bill that could also steer up to $150 million in economic disaster aid to fishing fleets, primarily in the Northeast, while urging everyone to have one, unified voice.

“We are particularly pleased to see that largely all of the elements of the ‘Bridge Plan’ that was constructed in Gloucester by a broad spectrum of industry stakeholders have been included in the bill,” Kirk’s letter reads, referring to a part of the bill that would direct 10 percent of federal seafood import tariff revenues toward community-based projects that would modernize fishing fleets and improve waterfronts.

However, citing the financial impact and communication between the fishing industry and Gloucester, Kirk and others also want to curb the idea of closing the regional NOAA office in Blackburn Industrial Park.

Kirk points out the building was only recently constructed at “considerable” cost to the federal government, and serves as a direct link between NOAA and the city’s fishing industry.

“I want to state unequivocably the need for NOAA management to stay in Gloucester,” the letter reads. “A move would not only mean a negative economic impact and job loss or disruptive relocations for the 260 workers in our community, it would also undermine the connections and collaborations the city and (National Marine Fisheries Service) NMFS have begun to make that have led to progressive solutions for the industry.”

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