March 25, 2013

Republican Senate candidate wants to fight for fishermen

By Auditi Guha | March 25, 2013 |

NEW BEDFORD – State Rep. Dan Winslow of Norfolk spoke about his commitment to the fishing industry Sunday.

“I cared about the issue long before I ran for Senate. This is about basic compassion for fellow human beings,” the Republican Senate candidate told a group of eight people at the Shawmut Diner.

“Fishermen by default are environmentalists. I think you can be pro-fisheries and pro-environment.”

Winslow criticized catch limits and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration policies, and said that his commitment will be twofold: to ensure that environmental agencies that oversee the fishing industry adhere to the laws that already exist to protect fishing communities, and to keep fishing families in business through a common-sense regulatory structure based on trusted science.

“We have laws in the books that are not necessarily being followed. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “This is a regulatory, economic issue, not just a fishing industry issue.”

Winslow also criticized the move to fund offshore wind energy, an industry that he said has failed in Spain.

He said over-the-horizon wind turbines are more efficient, modern and work much better that the ones that are anchored in fishing zones and could harm the local fishing industry.

“There’s a way to make our government work better for us, to be our servant and not our master,” he said.

He said he intends to help the local fishing industry by implementing four measures. Firstly, by holding NOAA accountable to National Standard 8 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act that has provisions to protect fishing families but which, he said, have been largely ignored by the agency.

Secondly, by proper allocation of the Saltonstall-Kennedy Fund money, which was to be solely used for the promotion of the U.S. fishing industry through fisheries research and development projects but, he said, has been used by NOAA increasingly to finance internal operations.

Thirdly, he said he would not support unfunded government mandates, particularly those of enforcement where fishermen would be expected to pay for observers on their boats.

Lastly, he said he would push for the need for cooperative research to supplement government surveys that should be publicly accessible and must be incorporated into the regulations to ensure accountability and public trust in the science and regulations produced “because the level of trust between the agency and the industry is negative now.”

Industry representatives expressed concerns about catch limits, regulations regarding enforcement and impact on the future of the business.

Reidar Bendikson of Reidar’s Manufacturing in Fairhaven, which builds fishing gear for trawlers and scallopers, said he is frustrated with the local restrictions and is worried about the business he has been in for 30 years.

“Is there going to be enough left of this fleet and business to survive?” he said.

“I’ve invested greatly into this and I am scared it won’t work out.”

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