Beutler fights for West Coast fishing industry

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) and Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) recently introduced legislation that would give fishermen flexibility to grow businesses by refinancing federal loans.

The proposed bill, the Revitalizing the Economy of Fisheries in the Pacific Act, has multiple cosponsors from both the House and the Senate.

The fishing industry on the West Coast struggles to pay high interest rates on federal loans and fees on their catch, according to Beutler.

The proposed legislation would ensure the fishermen receive the same interest rates on federal loans as other businesses. It would also extend the length of the loans from 30 to 45 years. The legislation would also reduce fees collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from fishermen to pay down their loans.

“The fishing industry is crucial to our state’s $10.8 billion coastal economy,” Cantwell said. “In Washington State and Alaska, we have some of the most sustainable fisheries in the world. This bill helps put fishing businesses on a level playing field with other businesses getting federal loans.”

The West Coast groundfish fishery supported 3,000 jobs and had a catch valued at $64 million in 2011.

Beutler said recent changes in the economy and the fishing industry make it difficult for small fishing businesses to meet their financial obligations.