Golden, Pingree Secure Critical Funding to Help Lobstermen Cover Burdensome Regulation Compliance Costs
Following push led by Golden and Pingree, House Appropriations bill contains $14 million to help lobstermen defray costs of expensive gear, other costs as a result of new rules
Washington, July 1, 2022
Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-01), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, announced today that they have secured $14 million to help support Maine lobstermen in the House Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Fiscal Year 2023 Appropriations bill. The inclusion of the funding in the bill comes after Golden and Pingree led a group of New England lawmakers in a letter to CJS House Appropriations Subcommittee leaders urging them to allocate additional assistance to the lobster industry and the New England communities that it supports.
“The right whale regulations are as economically damaging as they are misguided,” said Congressman Golden. “NOAA has been unable to prove that these regulations will work, but lobstermen are still being forced to pick up the tab. It’s just wrong. The least Congress can do is help ease the cost burden on lobstermen and this funding we secured will do just that. I’ll keep doing whatever I can to help lobstering communities navigate these indefensible regulations.”
“Maine’s lobster industry is not only an invaluable part of New England’s economy, but of the very fabric of our coastal communities. In addition to challenges brought on by the pandemic, warming waters, and supply chain disruptions, our lobstermen have been financially burdened even more because of NOAA’s damaging new regulations,” said Congresswoman Pingree. “I have opposed these regulations since they were announced, and since then have been pushing, alongside my Maine and New England colleagues, for federal support to help to cover the costs incurred by lobstermen as a result of the misguided rule. Building on the millions of dollars we helped secure in the FY2022 Appropriations bill, I’m thrilled the new funding bill will further support our lobster industry through these challenges. I’ll continue to work to ensure our historic and iconic industry thrives for generations to come.”
"One of the immediate consequences of the onerous new federal regulations placed on Maine lobstermen is the extensive time and cost of supplies and labor to comply with the rules ," said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen's Association. "MLA applauds Congressman Golden and Congresswoman Pingree for their work to secure funding to help lobstermen meet these strict mandates so they can keep their businesses going, and we appreciate the support of the entire delegation as we continue to push back against the 10-year whale plan.”
“During these difficult times for industry, it is critical that lobstermen have the resources they need to stay on the water,” said commercial lobsterman and Maine Lobstering Union Director Virginia Olsen. “While we work to right the wrongs of these regulations, including expensive and often dysfunctional gear, this funding will make a difference in keeping our fishermen in business. We greatly appreciate the work Congressman Golden and Congresswoman Pingree have done to secure this funding.”
The $14 million would be provided to states through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to cover costs incurred by the fishing industry to comply with the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (ALWTRP). These costs may include gear modification, configuration, and marking within the Northeast lobster and Jonah crab fisheries, both in Federal and State waters. Since Maine is home to the vast majority of the American lobster fleet, it is likely that most of this funding will go to lobstermen in Maine.
Last year, Golden and Pingree worked with Maine’s senators to include $17 million in similar funding in the Fiscal Year 2022 CJS appropriations bill, which was signed into law earlier this year. Golden and Pingree have opposed the new right whale rules since they were first proposed, citing the lack of evidence that Maine lobster gear is killing whales and the effect the onerous rules will have on an industry that is a lynchpin of Maine's coastal economy. Golden introduced an amendment to the FY 2019 CJS appropriations bill, cosponsored by Pingree, to withhold funds from implementation of the rule. The two U.S. Representatives have worked with Maine’s senators to push back against the regulations, including urging both the Biden and Trump Administrations to intervene on behalf of lobstermen against the regulations.
The full text of the letter can be found here.
Information on the House Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Fiscal Year 2023 Bill can be found here.