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By Michael Souza
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – A newly formed U.S. Senate group spearheaded by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse will help those in the area’s marine trade respond to issues concerning the oceans and coasts. Its first act will be to address illegal overfishing.
Whitehouse announced the formation of the Oceans Caucus on Jan. 13, at a business roundtable held by the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association. The event was held at the Providence Boat Show, hosted by the Rhode Island Convention Center.
“In the spirit of beginning the caucus with a strong bipartisan opener, the first piece of legislation we’re going to bat for is the Port State Measure,” Whitehouse said. The legislation would call for an international agreement enacting stronger enforcement measures for boats that are caught fishing illegally. Over the last three months, international authorities have captured two “pirate” vessels of unconfirmed origin with tons of illegal seafood.
“Not only do they fish in a manner that can deplete fishing stocks but they can also flood the market and drop prices,” he said.
The bipartisan group of almost 30 senators is designed to increase awareness of marine issues, varying from rising seawater levels to commercial fishing and marine construction jobs. Whitehouse will serve as a co-chairman along with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R – Alaska).