Friday, June 10, 2005

Kerry Appeals for Federal Aid Made on Behalf of Shellfishing Industry

The New England coastline has been hit with the worst case of Red Tide since 1972. The average person may not think much about this or even know what Red Tide is, but it is devastating to the Shellfishing industry in New England. In Massachusetts, alone the shellfishing industry has an “annual wholesale value of about $24 million.”

New England Red Tide “is a northern algae” that contaminates “only shellfish, making them unsafe and even fatal for animals and humans to eat.”

About two thirds of Massachusetts shellfishing flats have already been closed, as well as shellfishing flats in New Hampshire and Maine. The toxic Red Tide algae bloom is expected to continue through the peak shellfishing season, over the next few weeks leading up to July 4th.

Mass. Lawmakers Seek Aid for Red Tide - By Jay Lindsay, The Associated Press

A letter written Wednesday by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and also signed by Sen. Edward Kennedy, and U.S. Reps. William Delahunt, Barney Frank, John Tierney and Jim McGovern asks the U.S. Small Business Administration to declare an "economic injury disaster," which would make some of region's sidelined shellfishermen eligible for low interest loans. MORE.

John Kerry and Massachusetts Delegation Members Senator Kennedy and Congressmen Frank, Tierney, Delahunt and McGovern Strongly Urges SBA to Act Quickly to Aid Fishermen in Red Tide Crisis

“This disaster could not come at a worse possible time. Many of our fishermen provide shellfish to businesses on our coast that cater to tourists seeking local seafood during the summer months. The levels of toxicity from this red tide outbreak have been escalating in recent weeks. Local officials currently estimate that many shellfish beds will not be allowed to open for most of the summer months. The fishermen and other small businesses affected by the red tide disaster are an important part of the economic and cultural history of Massachusetts’ coastal communities. Emergency assistance for the shellfish industry is important for the continued growth of the Massachusetts economy.” The entire letter can be read here.

This is not the first time John Kerry has stood up to help the fishing industry in MA and New England. Kerry has consistently championed the local fisherman who provide so much to the local economy and culture of MA. Most people don’t think too much about where their New England seafood comes from, it’s either in their supermarket or served in a restaurant and how it got there is of no consequence. However, to many in the coastal towns of MA, NH and ME, fishing and the seafood industry is a way of life and the history and culture is rich and diverse.
I was raised around the fishing industry in MA with three uncles who were all in the industry.

The “family fish market” is an institution in area I grew up, including the one started by my uncle in 1946, which now run by his grandson. I remember only to well the effects of the Red Tide on the industry in 1972 and the panic and financial strain that it caused.

It should be noted that there are Red Tide outbreaks in other coastal areas of the U.S. as well, including the Florida area and the west coast. Not all Red Tide algae’s are the same.


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