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Rep. Herrera Beutler, Sen. Cantwell’s Bipartisan Fishing Jobs Bill Heading For Full U.S. House Vote

Upon House passage, REFI Act to support 3,000 fishing jobs expected to head to U.S. Senate

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Washington, DC, December 3, 2014 | comments
The bipartisan fishing jobs bill introduced by U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) – the Revitalizing the Economy of Fisheries in the Pacific (REFI) Act – is expected to receive a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives this week.
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The bipartisan fishing jobs bill introduced by U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) – the Revitalizing the Economy of Fisheries in the Pacific (REFI) Act –  is expected to receive a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives this week. It would then go to the U.S. Senate before year’s end.

“With this positive development, I’m very hopeful that this bipartisan bill to protect more than 3,000 fishing jobs – many of which are in Pacific County – will make it into law,” said Jaime.  “The REFI Act to grant fairer loan terms to the West Coast Groundfish Fishery is one of those solutions that is neither Democrat nor Republican – it’s simply common sense.  We wouldn’t have gotten here without the work of Senator Cantwell as well as the support of many of my colleagues here in the U.S. House.  This fishery was declared an economic disaster in 2000 and has been struggling to recover ever since, so I’m pleased we’re close to passing this bill to help them stay afloat and continue their important role in our region’s economy.”

“This is an important step forward to support Washington fishing jobs and our $30 billion maritime economy,” said Sen. Cantwell, a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard. “Our bipartisan bill will level the playing field for West Coast groundfish fishermen, ensuring they have fair financing and flexibility to grow their businesses. I’m proud to work with Rep. Herrera Beutler on this common-sense measure to support job growth in Washington’s fishing economy. We’ll continue to work to pass this bill through both the House and Senate.”

The bill has been combined into a larger package of legislation and will be considered before Congress this week as part of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.

The REFI Act that would provide relief to fishermen off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California who are struggling to sustain their businesses. The bill would adjust groundfishermens’ federal loan interest rates to match loan rates for other businesses, and would extend the length of these loans from 30 to 45 years. It would also reduce the cost recovery fees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) collects from fishermen to pay down their loans.

The West Coast groundfish fishery was declared an economic disaster in 2000, because of overcapitalization and overfishing. In 2003, Congress authorized buyback loans for the fishery to decrease fishing pressure and support a catch-share program in the fishery. These loans help eliminate overfishing by buying out the permits of those willing to leave the fleet. Congress was responding to a very real need, but has since learned that the loans were structured in an unsustainable manner.

For more details on this legislation, click here.

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