A spot of good news for groundfishermen

Those who read my story last week about groundfishing (or perhaps you saw Jeff and I talking about it on WCSH's 207 program) know that the men and women who catch cod, haddock, flounder, and other bottom-feeding fish are facing hard times. 

They've finally gotten a glimmer of good news. At the Maine Fishermen's Forum, taking place now in Rockport, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association announced they WILL (probably) pay for the cost of at-sea monitoring starting May 1. Such monitoring is in place to ensure that fishermen catch and report their harvests according to existing fishery regulations. 

According to a release from Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, who signed a letter last month asking that NOAA shoulder at least some of these costs, the announcement is still contingent on other factors.

"It's not a firm commitment from NOAA but this is a good step in the right direction. I'm going to keep urging them to follow through and pay for these expenses," Pingree said. "With costs of things like fuel continuing to go up and the quotas fishermen are getting going down, it's just becoming harder and harder to make ends meet and the last thing they need is to have to pay the costs of federal monitoring," Pingree said.

NOAA officials told Pingree today that they think they will beable to cover at-sea monitoring costs during the upcoming fishing season, but did leave open the possibility of not paying for all the expenses because of uncertainties relating to the mandatory budget cuts associated with the sequester.

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