I am proud to represent a part of the country with a history and livelihood that are inextricably connected to the Atlantic Coast fisheries.

New England’s commercial fishing industry has suffered from the collapse of groundfish stocks. A decade ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proclaimed that in light of the regulations imposed on our fishermen by the New England Fishery Management Council, the Gulf of Maine cod stock would recover by 2014. In 2015, however, the agency announced that this fishery is still on the verge of collapse. Clearly, there is a need to reassess our stock rebuilding strategies. As local stakeholders, federal agencies, and the scientific community continue to find solutions to rebuild our fisheries, it is important that any future regulations are based on the best available science to ensure sustainable fishing for current and future generations.

I voted in favor of H.R. 1335, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act. While I was concerned about some provisions in the bill, I believe it gives local stakeholders a greater role in developing regulations for rebuilding fisheries. Specifically, this legislation allows our regional Council the ability to adopt alternative rebuilding strategies that account for the unique conditions of New England’s groundfish ecosystem. Fishermen and the shore-side businesses they serve know the waters of the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank better than anyone because their livelihoods depend on the health of these resources. Effective fisheries management depends on the participation of the local community.

Ultimately, we all share the same goal of creating healthy and sustainable fisheries. I am committed to working with the local fishing industry, conservation groups, and federal regulators to achieve this aim.

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