Calif. bill aims to refinance fishing industry loan

During a visit to Eureka Tuesday, Congressman Jared Huffman announced plans to introduce legislation aimed at alleviating the financial hardship of a federal loan that has been weighing on Pacific Coast groundfish fishermen for just under a decade.

Huffman’s “Revitalizing the Economy of Fisheries in the Pacific Act” picks up where a bipartisan bill introduced in Sept. 2012 by former North Coast Congressmen Mike Thompson left off and would allow for the refinancing of a $35.7 million buyback loan authorized by Congress in 2003.

The opportunity to refinance the loan at a lower interest rate would give local groundfish fishermen the same opportunities as any homeowner or business, Huffman said during a news conference to announce the bill held outside the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center Tuesday afternoon. The bipartisan bill would not require the federal government to spend any new money.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for them (fishermen) — especially small businesses — to repay that debt, plus new fees — higher fuel costs, higher health care costs — and to remain in business,” he said. “Like any of us, they would like to refinance. They would like to take advantage of these historically low interest rates that we have today, but they need an act of Congress to do that.”

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