USA: more fisheries subsidies for U.S. fishermen

Recently, two U.S. Senators, Olympia Snowe (Republican, Maine) and Jack Reed (Democratic, Rhode Island) have announced that the U.S. federal government (NOAA) will distribute USD 10 million for various New England fisheries programs, including “aid for fishermen affected by regulations”.

Sen. Olympia Snowe claims that her state's fishermen will receive $2.7 million while Senator Reed asserts that his state's fishermen will get $3 million.

In Senator’s Reed web-site one can find the breakdown of the subsidies. I copy here some extracts of Senator's Reed press release:

$4.7 million for a fishing gear (groundline) exchange program. $3 million of this funding will go to help Rhode Island inshore lobster fisherman and offshore permit holders in the region. $1.7 million will go to Maine fishermen to convert from floating to sinking groundlines.

$3 million to support a dockside monitoring program throughout New England, and to support data collection to help implement a management structure for the groundfish industry.

$1 million for collaborative, industry-led research on fishing gear alternatives to reduce bycatch of depleted stocks for winter flounder off southern New England. Cooperative research.

$1 million to support a permit banking program through which fishing opportunity will be preserved for small and remote communities in Maine.

$290,000 to help cover NOAA’s administrative costs and oversight expenses.

$10,000 to fund the Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship Program, which helps undergraduates ursue study in the fields of oceanic and atmospheric science, research, and technology.

These Senators’ announcements remember me of a paragraph (in page 21) in a study by SHARP and SUMAILA (see my post titled 07/03/09 USA: "fifty-six percent of fishing industry direct subsidies in the U.S. could be considered harmful to fisheries"). In their study the authors state:

"The U.S. Congress can appropriate disaster assistance for fisheries at its discretion, whether or not here has been an official government disaster determination and whether or not the cause of the fishery collapse was of natural or anthropogenic cause."

So, U.S. lawmakers have a great latitude and freedom of action to enact laws to provide all sorts of fisheries subsidies (good, ugly, bad, WTO prohibited?, WTO allowed?) to U.S. fishermen.

Here are the links to the Senators' releases:



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