The City of New Bedford welcomed a possible congressional ally for the fishing industry Thursday to tour fisheries along the harbor. 

Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) took a tour of the Whaling City Seafood Auction and seafood processing plant Northern Wind along with Congressman Bill Keating (D-MA), New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and representatives of the local seafood industry.

Bishop, also chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, said the first-hand experience of the work done behind the scenes offered a new perspective.

"It is fascinating in detail, which I don't obviously have in Utah, but I also see how significant it is for the employment as well as for the economy of the country," Bishop said. "This is the food I eat."

Greg Desrosiers/TSM

Elected officials and members of the fishing industry have expressed grave concern over the federally mandated coasts by NOAA for at-sea monitors aboard select fishing vessels across the east coast.

Keating said it's difficult for legislators outside maritime districts to fully understand the impact of the at-sea monitoring costs.

"It creates a greater challenge to get the understanding why this is so important," said Keating. "The cost of monitoring $800 a day could be enough to be the difference between success and failure of a small business."

Keating has filed amendments to the Magnuson-Stevenson Act, which regulates fishing in U.S. waters and Bishop agrees there are better methods of monitoring out there.

"It has made me realize there may be an easier way of doing what we're trying to do to get better data and we have to keep working towards that...we're simply not doing enough," said Bishop.