Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and the state's congressional delegation are urging President Barack Obama to include funding for fishing safety training and safety research grant programs in his next federal budget.
In a Dec. 18 letter to Obama, Baker and the entire Massachusetts delegation pointed out that, based on U.S. Department of Labor statistics compiled by Bloomberg Business, Nnortheast groundfishermen are 37 times more likely to die on the job than police officers and 171 times more likely to die on the job than the average U.S. worker.
"If our school teachers died on the job at the same rate as our fishermen in Massachusetts, we would lose 400 public school teachers each year," they wrote to the president.
They also pointed out that the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 required new safety and survival training for those in charge of commercial fishing vessels operating beyond three nautical miles from shore.
"While Congress stipulated new safety training, it failed to fund the programs that were specifically created to provide assistance to the fishing community," they wrote to the president.
As part of those new programs, the Coast Guard Authorization Act created two competitive grant programs to help fund and provide the necessary training, including $3 million for fishing safety training and $3 million for fishing safety research grant programs, the latter of which would include funding for safety equipment.
"While the authorization was extended through fiscal year 2017, funds have yet to be appropriated for these programs," the Baker and the federal elected officials wrote to the president.
Angela Sanfilippo, a Gloucester-based board member of the Fishing Partnership Support Services organization that privately funds many of the safety training courses for fishermen, applauded the efforts of Baker and the Massachusetts congressional delegation to convince Obama to fund the safety-based training and research programs already authorized by Congress.
Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT