Northeast
Rep. Patrick Kearney

Rep. Patrick Kearney sponsoring three bills for Massachusetts’ fishing industry

State Rep. Patrick Kearney is sponsoring three bills aimed at helping the state’s commercial fishing and lobster industries.

Kearney testified in support of the three bills, H814, H815 and H816, at a hearing on Tuesday, June 25.

The first, H814, seeks to keep lobster fishing open year round, legislative action he said is needed to ensure the viability of the industry.

“It’s a false choice between being environmentally friendly and being in support of the lobster industry that supports thousands of jobs here in Massachusetts,” he said. “Despite all the fear-mongering about whales being harmed regularly by Massachusetts lobster traps, our lobster industry has taken steps over a 20-year period, at its own expense, to be environmentally conscious. Lobstermen should be rewarded for such initiatives, but instead, state regulators are threatening to restrict their livelihood even further.”

Kearney said the regulations on the length of the lobster season hurt the men and women in the community who make their living in that industry, and as such, H816 would make it so that the state Department of Fisheries budget would be funded “based on a formula in proportion to the loss or gain of revenue of the commercial fishing industry.”

“A government agency ought not to grow while putting regulations on the backs of fishermen, which ultimately put people in our community out of business,” Kearney said.

The third bill, H815 would give the Fisherman Partnership a permanent seat on the Seaport Economic Council. Following revisions to the council’s charter in April, pushed for by Kearney and State Sen. Patrick O’Connor, Marshfield resident and fisherman Ed Barrett was named the first representative from the fishing industry to that council. This bill would make such representation permanent.

The Seaport Economic Council gives out millions of dollars in grants each year in efforts to help coastal communities improve their local assets and facilitate local growth. In Marshfield, grants from the council funded the construction of the new Harbormaster Facility.

At the June 25 hearing, Kearney also testified in opposition to the ban on commercial striped bass fishing, saying that the legislation would only affect commercial fishermen, a group responsible for only 10 percent of the bass caught in the state, and that it would negatively impact their livelihood while not greatly impacting the breed’s population.

Follow James Kukstis on Twitter at @MarinerJamesK

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