GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

August 12, 2013

Letter: Addressing fishermen's urgent needs

To the editor,

This is an open letter to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (My View, the Times, Friday, Aug. 9).

Senator, I personally do not share your optimism about our individual, yet collective futures in the fishing industry.

Every day, fishermen are sinking deeper into debt. Every day, more fishermen are forced to come to the conclusion that they will have to sell the boat just so they can come up for air.

I’ve always said that “any day that you don’t make money with your boat, you lose money with your boat.” So what the financial equation boils down to is simple — how much money do you have to lose? That’s the measure of how long you’ll be able to hold out.

How far behind in your dockage, insurance, maintenance, mortgage, credit (debt), and emotional stability can you get before you’re forced to pull the plug, or someone else does? And how long until the old lady gives you the boot for dragging her and the kids along with you into the gutter?

Do you realize who are going to be the beneficiaries of these crumbs that have fallen under NOAA’s banquet table? The consultants, the grant writers, the lawyers who represent the consultants and grant writers, basically, the chiselers.

There is nothing here for the fisherman whose boat has set idle for months and will continue to do so until the bank repo man shows up.

So far, the federal government — from the bottom right on up to and including, the tippity top —has turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to our urgent predicament. Is federal relief policy, in reality, “too big to fail, too small to bail”?

We need a buyout for those who want out, and low interest debt consolidation loans combined with stabilization grants for those who want to stay in. This should be funded by Saltonstall-Kennedy Act tariff money that NOAA, along with congressional blind oversight, has been embezzling for decades.

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