Huffman Holds Press Conference on Bill to Help Sustain Fishing Communities
EUREKA, CA—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) announced today that he will introduce legislation to refinance a key fishing industry loan to help sustain fishing communities and support jobs along the Pacific coast. Congressman Huffman stood alongside fishermen and local elected officials at the Eureka harbor who echoed Huffman’s call for Congressional action to aid local fishermen and expressed their support for his legislation.
“The health of our coastal economy is in large part dependent on the success of our local fishermen. But it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to repay the debt on a decade-old federal loan—plus interest—putting our small businesses on the North Coast at risk,” Congressman Huffman said. “All we’re trying to do is refinance the existing loan at today’s lower interest rates—just like any homeowner or business would do.”
The Revitalizing the Economy of Fisheries in the Pacific Act of 2013 (REFI Act) would lower the interest rate on a federal loan that the fishing industry used to reduce the number of vessels targeting groundfish like sole, sablefish and rockfish. This will allow the West Coast trawl fleet to repay the loan in full, ensures its survival and economic vitality and does not require the federal government to spend any new money. Congressman Huffman will join other West Coast members of Congress to introduce the bipartisan bill after Congress reconvenes in April.
“The portion of the cost for fisheries management that fishermen pay has grown tremendously in recent years,” said Pete Leipzig with the Fishermen's Marketing Association, which represents 120 trawl fishing boats on the West Coast. “The refinancing of the buy-back loan debt will leave a little more money in fishermen's pockets, which they can spend in their local communities.”
Huffman was joined at the event by Leipzig, trawl fishermen including Travis Hunter and Brad Pettinger, Harbor Commissioners Greg Dale and Aaron Newman, and Eureka City Councilmembers Mike Newman, Linda Atkins, and Marian Brady. Huffman announced the legislation as part of a tour of his North Coast district, including Del Norte and Humboldt counties.