Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) recently announced that he would introduce legislation to refinance a key fishing industry loan to help sustain fishing communities, and support jobs along the Pacific coast.
“The health of our coastal economy is in large part dependent on the success of our local fishermen. But it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to repay the debt on a decade-old federal loan—plus interest—putting our small businesses on the North Coast at risk,” Huffman said. “All we’re trying to do is refinance the existing loan at today’s lower interest rates—just like any homeowner or business would do.”
The Revitalizing the Economy of Fisheries in the Pacific Act of 2013 (REFI Act) would lower the interest rate on a federal loan that the fishing industry used to reduce the number of vessels targeting groundfish like sole, sablefish and rockfish.
This will allow the West Coast trawl fleet to repay the loan in full, ensures its survival and economic vitality and does not require the federal government to spend any new money.
“The portion of the cost for fisheries management that fishermen pay has grown tremendously in recent years,” said Pete Leipzig with the Fishermen’s Marketing Association, which represents 120 trawl fishing boats on the West Coast. “The refinancing of the buy-back loan debt will leave a little more money in fishermen’s pockets, which they can spend in their local communities.”
Huffman will join other West Coast members of Congress to introduce the bipartisan bill after Congress reconvenes in April.