By Richard Gaines
---- — 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.
Winslow’s attention to the Saltonstall-Kennedy Act — co-sponsored by the senators from Massachusetts at the time, Republican Leverett Saltonstall and the future President John Kennedy — helped highlight a source of disaster assistance revenue for the region that was identified last month by Congressman John Tierney of Salem , whose district includes Cape Ann.
Tierney has filed legislation to take a year’s dedicated revenue from seafood imports as required by Saltonstall-Kennedy for use in funding the fisheries disaster.
“Mr. Winslow is correct to support what I have long believed that Saltonstall-Kennedy funding should be returned to its original principles,” Tierney said through an email to the Times. “Supporting fishermen should not be a partisan issue, and I hope Speaker (John) Boehner and other congressional leaders move my legislation forward immediately.
“Our fishing communities have waited too long for the disaster assistance they deserve and we must improve the science and research that can help prevent this kind of economic crisis from occurring again,” Tierney added.
Once the disaster funding is appropriated, Tierney’s bill would rededicate it to fisheries R&D and marketing.
Winslow is one of three Republicans seeking the nomination of their party in a special election to be held June 25 to replace John Kerry, who resigned at the of January to become Secretary of State. The Republican and Democratic primaries are to be held April 30. The other two Republican candidates are Michael Sullivan, a former U.S. attorney who resides in Abington, and Gabriel Gomez of Cohasset, a principal in an investment firm and a former Navy SEAL and pilot.
“I am against unfair regulations that hurt our vital Massachusetts’ fishing communities,” Gomez said in an email. “Overzealous enforcement by NOAA and unreasonable catch limits threaten our fishing jobs and put a burden on our local economy. In the Senate I will take a balanced approach. I will take fishery policy advice from the men and women that make their livelihoods from the sea, not Washington D.C.”
Sullivan said in an email that “the plight of the fishing industry and the communities affected by government mismanagement of it are a grave concern to me.”
“I’ve been greatly encouraged through the years at the bipartisan nature of our approach to fighting senseless regulations coming from Washington,” he said.
“We don’t have a shortage of fish or willing fisherman; we do have over-regulation of an industry that used to be highly successful,” Sullivan added. “Artificially-low harvesting levels have practically ruined this industry. In many cases, generations of families have devoted their lives to this industry. Communities have been built around it.
“In coming days, I’ll be pleased to further clarify the work I’ll do, if elected as U.S. Senator, to restore this important industry,” Sullivan said.
Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3464, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.