June 25, 2010

Sens. Lautenberg, Snowe, Whitehouse, Cantwell Introduce Coastal Jobs Creation Act of 2010

Bill Would Establish Grant Program Within Commerce Department to Enhance Coastal Job Opportunities

WASHINGTON D.C. – Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) have introduced the Coastal Jobs Creation Act of 2010, a bill to establish a grant program within the Department of Commerce to enhance employment opportunities for coastal communities by increasing support for cooperative research and fishery observer programs, revitalization of coastal infrastructure, and stewardship of coastal and marine resources. The bill was also co-sponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), John F. Kerry (D-MA), and Mark Begich (D-AK).

“This bill will keep fishermen on the water and create new jobs that enhance the viability of our waterways,” Senator Lautenberg said. “At a time when our nation is struggling with high unemployment, we need to support American fisheries and maritime industries. Fishing our waters is a way of life for many families in New Jersey and Americans in other coastal states, and I will continue working to preserve our valuable coastal resources.”

“As our Nation struggles to recover from the ongoing recession, it is critical that we do all we can to create employment opportunities,” said Senator Snowe. “More than 50 percent of the U.S. population lives in coastal regions, so ultimately, what affects our coastal economy drives our nation’s economy. Unfortunately, our fishing and maritime industries have experienced more than their share of hardship, and this crucial legislation would greatly enhance the health and vitality of Maine’s coastal communities – as well as those across our great nation – helping to put America on a path to a true economic recovery, driven by small businesses and private sector job creation.”

“The fishing industry has long been an important source of jobs for our Ocean State, but with declining fish stocks, a new sector management plan, and a tough economy overall, we need to make sure our fishermen and their families get the support they need. This legislation will provide local fishermen with employment that helps them to continue working on or near the ocean while fish stocks rebuild,” said Senator Whitehouse.

“In this time of financial hardship, we need to do everything possible to create jobs today and for the future,” said Senator Cantwell. “This bill will help ensure more sustainable fisheries and pay out-of-work fishermen to do important work like restoring Puget Sound and conducting research in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. By providing competitive grants for job creation along our coasts, this legislation will help to breathe life into a hard-hit part of Washington state’s economy.”

More than 75 percent of growth in the United States from 1997 to 2007, whether measured in population, jobs, or GDP, occurred in coastal states. Regulatory changes mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which was reauthorized in 2006, require strict, science-based annual catch limits to be imposed in all fisheries by 2011. If the law’s new mandates are to be effective, they must have an infusion of better scientific data. The grant program authorized in this legislation will lead to more cooperative research and fisheries observers that will improve fishery-dependent data and increase employment opportunities for fishermen by involving them in the research process.

An additional concern this bill would help alleviate is the rapid decline in availability of working waterfront property. As Americans move to the coast in greater numbers, the demand for waterfront property increases, boosting prices and raising the tax burdens on waterfront property owners. This bill would authorize grants to recapitalize working waterfront property to stem the loss of vital infrastructure.

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