ALASKA COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN ADVOCATE FOR YOUNG FISHERMEN, SUSTAINABLE FISHERIES MANAGEMENT ON CAPITOL HILL

ALASKA COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN ADVOCATE FOR YOUNG FISHERMEN, SUSTAINABLE FISHERIES MANAGEMENT ON CAPITOL HILL

Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association & Alaska Marine Conservation Council
Urge Alaska Lawmakers to Protect Magnuson-Stevens Act

Washington, DC – Representatives of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association and the Alaska Marine Conservation Council – both members of the national Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC) – were in Washington, DC, this week urging lawmakers to resist shortsighted efforts to weaken fishing communities by undermining key Magnuson-Stevens Act accountability provisions.   

In meetings with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan, Rep. Don Young, NOAA fisheries, and others, members of both organizations underscored that Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) reauthorization legislation will only strengthen fishing communities if Congress recommits to science-based Annual Catch Limits across all sectors and strengthens other key stewardship provisions within the Act

“Alaska’s small-boat commercial fishermen are proud to sustainably harvest seafood enjoyed in restaurants and homes across America,” said Linda Behnken of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA). “The future of Alaska’s fishing communities depends on healthy fish stocks and sustained access by coastal residents to productive commercial fisheries.”  

“The MSA is working in Alaska and around the country because all sectors adhere to scientifically-sound annual catch limits. Reauthorization will only provide a bright future for our nation’s young fishermen if all sectors—commercial and recreational—recommit to sustainable harvest through improved stock assessment, better catch accounting, and strict adherence to annual catch limits,” continued Behnken. 

“Eliminating accountability for recreational catch will lead to over harvest and reductions in quotas that hurt all fishermen,” said Shannon Carroll, Deputy Director of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC). “To secure our fishing future, it is critical that Congress clearly apply accountability standards, including annual catch limits, to all sectors.”

ALFA and AMCC representatives also thanked the Alaska congressional delegation for its leadership on the Young Fishermen’s Development Act, and urged them to ensure the bipartisan initiative to support the next generation of commercial fishermen is signed into law.  

Both ALFA and AMCC are engaged in efforts to address the “graying of the fleet” in Alaska by attracting younger entrants into the fishing industry through training and apprenticeship initiatives. The Young Fishermen’s Development Act would give fishing communities a needed boost at the national level by addressing steep and growing obstacles – including high cost of entry and limited entry-level opportunities – facing the next generation of America’s commercial fishermen.

COMMUNITY FISHERMEN ADVOCATE FOR YOUNG FISHERMEN’S DEVELOPMENT ACT

COMMUNITY FISHERMEN ADVOCATE FOR YOUNG FISHERMEN’S DEVELOPMENT ACT

New England And Gulf Of Mexico Fishermen Meet With Policymakers In Washington To Build Support For Next Generation

Washington, DC – Members of the Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC) from Cape Cod, Maine, and the Gulf of Mexico are in Washington this week urging lawmakers to support the Young Fishermen’s Development Act (YFDA), bipartisan legislation that would help the next generation of America’s commercial fishermen navigate the steep and growing obstacles within the commercial fishing industry.

Over two days, fishermen from the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance and the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association are meeting with policymakers from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill to advocate for FCC priorities. These include the bipartisan YFDA (H.R.2079S.1323), which was recently endorsed by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representative Charlie Crist (D-FL). 

“We are encouraged and grateful that the entire Maine congressional delegation is behind this effort to stand up for future fishermen in our state and elsewhere,” said Alex Todd, a 10th generation fishermen and member of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association. “Supporting the next generation of commercial fishermen is critical to the future of Maine’s fishing communities and others like it across the country. We look forward to working with Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Poliquin to push this effort over the finish line following this week’s productive meetings.”

“As a small-boat commercial fisherman, I see firsthand how the next generation is struggling to overcome the high cost of entry, including expensive boats, equipment and training,” said Stephanie Sykes with the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “We are thankful to Senator Markey and Representative Moulton for their leadership in this effort and to Senator Warren and Representatives Keating and Tsongas for their strong support. We look forward to building on this momentum to guarantee a future for our fishing communities.”

“We are very pleased that Representative Crist has signed on as the newest co-sponsor of the Young Fishermen’s Development Act,” said Eric Brazer, Deputy Director of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance. “We look forward to building support among the Gulf States’ congressional delegations for this bill, which supports apprenticeship programs and competitive grants to ensure young people can build a career in commercial fishing. Ultimately, this is about preserving economic opportunity, food security and a way of life in that is deeply rooted in tradition here in the Gulf and beyond.” 

About the Young Fishermen’s Development Act

Introduced in the 115th Congress by Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) in the House and Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in the Senate, the Young Fishermen’s Development Act would launch the first coordinated, nationwide effort to train, educate and assist the next generation of commercial fishermen, providing grants of up to $200,000 (totaling $2 million annually) through NOAA’s Sea Grant Program.

VIDEO: “A FUTURE ON THE WATER”

Commercial Fishermen: Partisan House Bill Threatens Future Health of U.S. Fisheries

Commercial Fishermen: Partisan House Bill Threatens Future Health of U.S. Fisheries

Fishing Communities Coalition Expresses Concern Over Deeply Flawed Magnuson-Stevens Act Legislation

Washington, DC – The nation’s leading organization of small-boat, conservation-minded commercial fishermen expressed serious concern with Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) reauthorization legislation (H.R. 200), which was reported out of the House Natural Resources Committee yesterday. The Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC), whose members represent more than 1,000 commercial fishermen, criticized a partisan process that resulted in bill language that would undermine decades of proven, sustainable fisheries practices.

“Rather than putting forward a bipartisan, consensus federal fisheries bill, H.R. 200 takes an outmoded approach to fisheries management that will have dire consequences for our fisheries, fishing communities and millions of Americans who enjoy seafood,” said Ben Martens of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association (MCFA), who testified before the committee in September. “It is deeply unfortunate that this legislation was marked up before a consensus, bipartisan agreement could be reached on legislation with such far-reaching impacts for fishing communities across the nation.”

“The Magnuson-Stevens Act is a success story – built on a foundation of cooperation and long-term thinking. In its current form, however, this bill makes several damaging changes to the MSA, including exempting some fisheries from annual catch limits and rebuilding requirements, while weakening strong core conservation provisions,” said Eric Brazer of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance. “We look forward to working with legislators on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate to address these serious concerns as the process moves forward.”

The FCC is concerned H.R. 200 would

Weaken National Fisheries Standards

  • H.R. 200 does not constitute a genuine national fisheries policy, as it creates different rules for different regions. For example, when it come to the vital issue of catch shares, the bill bans new catch shares in some regions, requires a referendum to enact them in other regions and fails to address the issue in others. In FCC’s view, the same rules should apply nationwide

Undermine Accountability

  • H.R. 200 exempts some fisheries from annual catch limits and rebuilding requirements – and overall weakens the strong conservation provisions that are the bedrock of the MSA.
  • H.R. 200 seeks to give recreational fishermen more access to fish, but does not require them to be accountable for what they catch. FCC has proposed mandatory reporting so that managers know how many fish were taken.

SMALL FISHING GROUPS GAIN ACCESS TO FEDERAL FINANCING SUPPORT

SMALL FISHING GROUPS GAIN ACCESS TO FEDERAL FINANCING SUPPORT

FCC Scores Big Win for Small-Boat Fishermen and their Communities

Washington, DC – Small-boat fishermen and community-based fishing organizations just received a big boost in their struggle to finance rights to catch fish in federally managed waters.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has issued a proposed rule that would provide financial assistance to community fishing associations, permit banks and community quota banks to purchase fishing quota and other harvesting rights. Since 2012, members of the Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC) have worked with Congress to change the law to ensure that community-based fishing associations could access a key loan program to finance harvesting rights for young and beginning fishermen.

The new rule implements changes to the Fisheries Finance Program (FFP) made by the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-120). Prior to the change, loans for the purchase of harvesting rights were limited to fisheries in Alaska.

“This is a major positive change that will give younger fishermen and smaller fishing operations a chance to build their businesses for the future,” said John Pappalardo, FCC President and CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “Financing community quota banks has been a huge challenge for our member fishermen, so having FFP loans available as a potential source of funding is a powerful change for the better.”

After the 2015 law was passed, members of the FCC met with NMFS personnel to provide information on how various quota banks were created and how they work.

The new rule does not waive the economic soundness test applied by NMFS to all FFP loans. Like other FFP loans, lending for harvesting rights is subject to a loan limit of 80 percent of the actual cost. Harvesting rights loans can carry a 25-year term and be used to purchase new rights or refinance debt associated with the prior purchase of harvesting rights.

“This new rule represents a major victory for fishing communities and small-scale fishing businesses across the nation,” Pappalardo continued. “FCC members in Alaska, Maine and Massachusetts have already created community quota banks – and this new rule will allow more fishermen to build a career on the water.”