Fishermen to feel relief from at-sea monitoring costsBy KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent
August 14. 2018 10:25PM
HAMPTON — Fishermen struggling to turn a profit on the water this year will receive some much-needed relief from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NOAA will completely reimburse New England fishermen for at-sea monitoring fees accrued during the 2018 fishing year. These fees can amount to about $700 a day, and this year the men and women working the water near Hampton have been forced to take out monitors about 40 percent of the time.
“This is a relief, and this is exactly what our guys need in a very difficult time,” New Hampshire Community Seafood General Manager Andrea Tomlinson said Tuesday.
Tomlinson said monitoring costs are eating into profits and with price fluctuations at the beginning of the season fishermen have been having a hard time making ends meet. A few boat owners have gone out without a crew to save money, which she said is extremely dangerous.
“This is really, really good news,” Tomlinson said of the announcement.
NOAA is able to provide the money for monitors due to $10.3 million in funding under an omnibus government spending bill. It was signed into law in March, and as a result the federal agency can also reimburse 85 percent of the costs incurred by fishermen in 2017.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, negotiated for the funding. She said it was a top priority for her.
“Our state’s commercial fishing industry is operating on razor-thin margins and urgently needs relief from these burdensome fees, which is why I’m thrilled that funding is now available to cover the costs of at-sea monitoring,” Shaheen said in a statement.
Shaheen also procured $2 million in new funding for New England groundfish research. This will help pay for studies on the impacts of climate change and the effects of warming waters on the fishery.
Tomlinson said Granite State residents who want to help support local fishermen can sign up for an 8- or 16-week membership through New Hampshire Community Seafood. The fall session began Tuesday and includes fillets of cod, haddock, flounder, hake and more.
Information can be found at www.nhcommunityseafood.com.