The Chesapeake Bay and our coastal areas have always been a staple of Maryland. Throughout the years, I've witnessed the literal and figurative ebb and flow of the tides in hopes that someone would take the initiative to protect the future of our state's abundant fishing and recreational opportunities.
I believe that the recently introduced Fisheries Investment and Regulatory Relief Act of 2012 (FIRRA) would provide the funding needed to ensure that our rich Maryland fishing traditions remain strong and our coastal communities continue to be a place for Maryland residents and visitors to enjoy. With dwindling federal funds, FIRRA would provide dedicated funding critical to helping our fishing and ocean communities. The funds would come from money already collected from import duties and would be used for science-based fisheries management, which was the original intent of the funds collected. Instead, the money currently goes to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to cover their overhead expenses. I would like to see local fishermen and coastal communities here in Maryland benefit from FIRRA, and I am happy to see a plan that doesn't further dig into the pockets of taxpayers.
I encourage Sen. Barbara Mikulski to protect the Chesapeake and our Maryland traditions by supporting FIRRA.