West Coast fishermen's ally testifies in D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Peninsula resident enjoyed the unusual and exciting experience of testifying in person to a congressional committee this month.

A proposed law working its way through Congress now would give Pacific Coast groundfish fishermen, already working within tight regulations, some extra financial breathing room.

Jim Neva, consultant and retired manager for the Port of Ilwaco, traveled to the nation’s capital April 3 to speak at a hearing of the Committee on Natural Resources’ subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs. U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who represents Southwest Washington, invited him to speak in favor of her proposed H.R. 2646, or Revitalizing the Economy of Fisheries in the Pacific Act (REFI Pacific Act).

The REFI Pacific Act would direct the Secretary of Commerce to essentially change the terms of a loan that owners of vessels still involved in the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery have been paying off since 2003. That’s when the fishery was offered a federal buyout. A number of fishermen retired their licenses, with those who continued to fish helping pay for the buyout.

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