Massachusetts lawmakers demand relief for fishermen from Obama

“In light of the deepening disaster faced by Massachusetts fishing communities, we write today to again express our support for a disaster declaration and federal assistance for New England fishermen,” lawmakers wrote.

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The request came after the White House this week announced $170 million in aid for farmers and ranchers, but didn’t address the situation faced by fishermen.

“We are concerned that recent efforts by your administration to provide disaster relief for agricultural producers, including catfish farmers, affected by drought throughout the United States did not include assistance for the hardworking fishermen and fishing communities in New England,” the letter stated.

In the letter, lawmakers said that NOAA catch limits, declines in fish populations and other regulations have “decimated” the fleet size and harmed the struggling fishing community. The lawmakers partially blamed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and asked the administration to do something about it.

“Before you took office, our hardworking fishermen and fishing businesses faced inflated fines and enforcement tactics that violated American standards for decent government conduct,” the letter stated. “An independent investigator hired by the Department of Commerce found that some of NOAA’s misconduct was motivated by a thirst for monetary fines. The proceeds of these fines were used for travel to exotic locations, and the unnecessary purchase of boats for the personal use of NOAA employees.”

New England lawmakers have made similar requests of the administration for the last two years.