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Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, July 19, 2018
Reps. Poliquin and Pingree co-sponsor amendment to fisheries bill

by Anne Berleant

In an effort to cut unnecessary federal fees for lobstermen, dealers and processors, Congressman Bruce Poliquin (R-2nd Dist.) and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-1st Dist.) joined forces across the political aisle to amend a fisheries bill that is currently before the U.S. Senate.

The bill, H.R. 200 - Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act, passed the U.S. House 222-193 on July 11.

The amendment, offered by Poliquin and co-sponsored by Pingree, directs NOAA to conduct a study of all fees imposed on all sectors of the lobster industry.

“The intent is to identify areas where fees are overly burdensome and, ultimately, to help eliminate any unnecessary costs for Maine’s lobster industry,” said Poliquin’s press secretary Brendan Conley.

The amendment was one of 10 successfully added before the House voted to approve the bill.

While the Maine lobster industry has had some recent banner years of landings, in value and weight, it saw a significant drop in catch in 2017, and now faces possible challenges as a result of trade tariffs. Maine’s entire congressional delegation hosted a meeting between U.S. Trade Representative officials and members of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association in June to discuss federal trade policies and their impact on Maine’s lobster industry.

“Maine’s lobster fisheries face new challenges every day—from warming waters to rising tariffs due to the ongoing trade war with the EU and China. These factors have put enormous pressure on Maine’s lobster industry and it’s imperative that we do everything we can to reduce that burden,” Pingree stated in a press release issued by Poliquin’s office.

Poliquin said: “This bipartisan amendment is simple—it allows us to identify and take a look at the unnecessary costs our lobster industry burdens. Our federal government should be working with our lobster industry, not against it.”

H.R. 200 was introduced to revise and reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the primary law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. federal waters. Enacted in 1976, it has twice been amended, first in 1996 with the passage of the Sustainable Fisheries Act, and then in 2007 with the MSA Reauthorization Act.