Cape Ann Representatives Active in State Budget Process

State Representatives from Cape Ann succeeded in getting several amendments into the FY2016 Budget that will affect fishermen and families on the North Shore. Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) co-sponsored an amendment put forward by Rep. Bradford Hill (R-Ipswich) that increases funding for trapping the invasive Green Crab in and around Cape Ann.

“I am pleased to stand with my colleague, Rep. Brad Hill, today to support the fight against the Green Crab in the Great Marsh and along the Massachusetts Coast” Ferrante stated. “This species, which is not native to New England, has threatened our coastal economy by displacing and reducing softshell clams and several other important species that are staples in our restaurants and on our dinner tables.”

It is believed that the species came to New England in ship ballast over 100 years ago, and has proliferated extensively. Scientists have noted that they have few natural predators and destroy the marine habitat- eliminating food sources necessary to other species in the area. The amendment will continue the work begun in last year’s budget to reduce and displace the population, and seek alternative uses, if any exist, for the species.

In addition to the Green Crab initiative, Ferrante lent strong vocal support for UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST). SMAST plays a critical role in developing innovative new ways to monitor Massachusetts’ fisheries and accurately assessing the health of the stocks.

Stock assessment has long proven a challenge to industry experts. Ferrante explained that new methods need to be found, and that SMAST now has the means to do so. “Their research, coupled with the work and input from our fishermen, will play an integral role in keeping our fishermen at work, and continuing to grow the health of our ports.”

Voting on the House budget finished on Wednesday evening. The Senate will begin their own budget process later this month, and any differences will be discussed in a joint conference.

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