[Massachusetts state legislators submitted a July 23 letter to Neil Jacobs, NOAA’s acting undersecretary for oceans and atmosphere, NMFS Director Chris Oliver, NMS Greater Atlantic regional administrator Michael Pentony, and Jon Hare of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, requesting an extension of waivers for at-sea monitoring requirements.]

Dear Under Secretary Jacobs, Mr. Oliver, Mr. Pentony, and Dr. Hare:

Thank you for extending the waiver for the requirement of At-Sea Monitoring (ASM) in the Northeast groundfishery through July 31, 2020. This action was critical to protecting the health and safety of the men and women in the Massachusetts commercial fishing industry.

While covid-19 trends in the Northeast have been generally positive, many coastal areas continue to see cases rising, including Suffolk, Bristol, and Barnstable counties here in Massachusetts, all of Rhode Island, and Virginia Beach County, Virginia. As Senator Tarr’s June 30, 2020 letter to you, the commercial fishing industry remains among the most vulnerable to covid-19 due to the inherent conditions of their working environment at sea. Furthermore, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have warned that this fall and winter will likely see a secondary outbreak of covid-19.

Despite the initial extension of ASM waivers in the Northeast groundfishery, the issues outlined in Senator Tarr’s letter of June 30, 2020 persist today, Therefore, in the interest of protecting our commercial fishing communities and to prevent exacerbating the spread of covid-19, we strongly urge you to extend the ASM requirement waiver until a time when it is safe to resume this form of monitoring.

Thank you for your attention to this request, and please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of further assistance.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr; Sen. Mark Montigny; Sen Diana DiZoglio; Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante; Rep. Susan Gifford; Rep. Will Crocker; Rep. Angelo Saccia; Rep. Theodore Speliotis; Rep. Lenny Mirra; Rep. Steven Howitt

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