Supplemental Budget Addresses Important Statewide Fiscal Priorities And Funds Research Relating to Groundfish, Fisheries Management
(BOSTON) – On Wednesday, State Representative Christopher M. Markey (D- Dartmouth) and his colleagues in the House of Representatives passed a Supplemental Budget for FY 2012 that, among other areas, addressed the need to bolster technology and research relating to fisheries management.
The Supplemental Budget raises the level of funding from $150,000 to $1,112,000 “for a program of collaborative research with that Massachusetts Maritime Academy that applies sonar technology over significant surface area of the ocean to assess the biomass of groundfish in the region managed by the New England Fishery Management Council.” Markey, who is House Chair of the Joint Subcommittee on Catch Share and Fisheries Management, was enthusiastic about the increase in funding, stating “when people’s livelihoods are in the balance, we can’t be running off of old or inaccurate numbers. Regardless of where you stand, you have to look at verifiable empirical data as a must-have.” Markey was referring to a history of outdated data used by National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to justify what he would categorize to be the overreaching, draconian system of regulation and enforcement of the commercial fishing industry.
With newer, more reliable data about groundfish populations in hand, Representative Markey hopes that NOAA will begin to take a different approach. “Our federal delegation has been fighting the good fight, our local and state officials are also hammering away, but the groundswell of outrage over NOAA’s punitive treatment of commercial fishing will not have any effect if we don’t have the right information in hand,” he said. “Everyone should understand that today is a different day, and fishermen know that overfishing means the end of their livelihood. It is just not in their interests to do it, so I’m sure the industry will be receptive to the data collected as long as it is the truth.”
Markey also touted several components of the Supplemental Budget that, while having a statewide effect, are extremely important to the SouthCoast. Adult Day Health Care, in danger of severe cuts last year, was once again saved, as the Supplemental Budget called for the maintaining of current funding levels. “We have so many working people who just can’t take care of their elderly or disabled loved ones throughout the day without jeopardizing their careers. Not taking this action, which saves so much money when compared to nursing home and more advanced care, would be like throwing money out the window. Plus, the way we treat our elderly and disabled citizens is a good measure of our society, and I think we made the responsible choice,” said Markey.
The Supplemental Budget also calls for a freeze in the rates employers pay for Unemployment Insurance which, according to Markey, should free up millions of dollars in the private sector for employee retraining, raises, capital improvements and, most importantly, new hiring. “It may not be a permanent solution, but it will provide real flexibility to businesses and allow them to do what they do best: put the citizens of our Commonwealth back to work,” said Markey.
He also pointed to an increase to funding for Home Heating Fuel Assistance as a positive for residents of the District. “We’ve all received calls about heating assistance, and it is heartbreaking to think of families shivering in their homes. They are our neighbors, and they deserve our compassion.” Markey added, “at the end of the day, this Supplemental Budget will have a real, positive impact on the lives of our constituents. I’m proud to have been a part of that effort.” The Supplemental Budget now moves to the Senate for review.