Rep. Herrera Beutler, Sen. Cantwell, Introduce Bill to Support Fishing Jobs

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and U.S. Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, and Jared Huffman, D-Calif., have led a coalition of senators and representatives to introduce new legislation that would help support the West Coast’s fishing industry, according to a statement released Thursday.

Many fishing businesses in the West Coast groundfish fishery have struggled to pay high interest rates on federal loans and fees on their catch, according to Herrera Beutler.

The legislation ensures these fishermen receive the same interest rates on federal loans as other businesses and extends the length of these loans from 30 to 45 years. In addition, the legislation reduces fees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) collects from fishermen to pay down their loans, Herrera Beutler said in the release.

In 2011, the West Coast groundfish fishery supported 3,000 jobs and a catch valued at $64 million, according to the Camas Republican.

“This bill will provide much-needed relief to the folks in Southwest Washington whose livelihoods depend on fishing,” Herrera Beutler said. “Conditions have changed in both the economy and the fishing industry since these loans were issued, and too many small fishing businesses up and down our coast are struggling to keep afloat financially.”

The Secretary of Commerce declared the West Coast groundfish fishery a federal fisheries economic disaster in 2000, because of overcapitalization and overfishing.