Whatever your politics, it’s a safe bet that you too are glad the presidential election is finally behind us and we can just get on with business, life, and moving forward.
Yes, the country remains deeply divided and the waters we are about to cross with this new president are … well, uncharted.
But the key question on our mind as we begin this New Year and new administration is what will this all mean to commercial fishermen, their families, and to fishing communities here in New England.
For starters, there are those in the industry who are hoping, and advocating, for incoming President Donald Trump to recind or significantly alter President Obama’s recent declaration of the highly controversial Atlantic marine monument.
That seems unikely, but barring such action, fishermen are losing access to productive fishing grounds by what many consider overreaching protection of sensitive habitat.
Shifting gears, both Trump supporters and critics seem to agree that the incoming administration will likely be taking a more proactive “business friendly” approach to governing.
But what does that mean, exactly?
On one hand, if new policies and relaxed regulations stimulate economic growth and increased consumer spending, that is good news for fishermen and anyone in the seafood business.
Seafood of all kinds, particularly key species landed here in New England, is still considered a luxury purchase by many US consumers. A robust economy could be expected to help lift prices and demand.
On the potential downside, however, there are indications that the Trump Administration will be much more aggressive in pursuing and expanding fossil fuel use.
While more domestically produced oil might mean stable or even declining prices for boat fuel, the prospect of opening more ocean floor to drilling here in New England should be a concern to all fishermen.
The industry is already trying to come to terms with wind power and its impacts on fishing activities. Any encroachment into fishing grounds by oil and gas development will, and must, face fierce resistance.
Lastly, fishermen and their families are – like millions of other Americans – wondering what to expect from an almost certain major overhaul of Obamacare.
We remain, as an industry, badly underinsured. And while the current plan is flawed, it does offer protection to many who have no other options.
Clearly, the Trump Administration and Congress face a massive challenge in revamping/replacing Obamacare. Let’s hope they get it right, along with all the rest. /cfn/
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