Commercial Fishermen spend two days in D.C. advocating for appropriations for critical fisheries programs within NMFS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC) issued the following statement on their recent visit to Capitol to meet with Appropriations offices:

We are pleased to announce that FCC members had a productive trip to Washington, D.C. last week to meet with lawmakers who sit on the House and Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee, House Natural Resources Committee, and Senate Commerce Committee and discuss the Coalition’s appropriations priorities for NMFS programs.

More than 20 fishermen and representatives from the FCC’s seven member groups spent two full days on Capitol Hill advocating for fully funding a number of NMFS fisheries programs at the level requested by the President for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) including: Electronic Monitoring and Reporting, Management and Regulatory Support for Electronic Technologies, Observers and Training, Expand Stock Assessments, and Integrated Ocean Acidification, among others. FCC fishermen and representatives met with twenty-two offices in the House and Senate to emphasize how these NMFS programs help improve monitoring, accountability, data collection, and understanding of the reality of what’s happening in and on the water, and ensuring our small boats continue to have access to healthy fisheries.

“We were able to really capitalize on a unique opportunity to influence policy and program implementation through engaging in the appropriations process. Offices were receptive to our appropriations requests and we received a surprising amount of support from offices around the nation for more fully integrating electronic technologies into fisheries management. We are hopeful that as NMFS receives its appropriations, use of electronic technologies becomes more commonplace and serves as a cost-effective, efficient alternative to human observers.” – Ben Martens, Executive Director of Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association

“It is important for lawmakers and staff to hear directly from the fishermen who benefit from these program and why they are so critical to protecting our healthy fisheries. We were able to bring together a wide variety of fishermen, from young Alaskan fishermen to guys who have been fishing for 30+ years in the Gulf of Mexico, to highlight the need for full funding for these programs that directly impact their ability to access healthy fish stocks. The staff we met with appreciated hearing about why these programs are so critical not only to their district or region, but across the nation. It certainly helped illustrate the connectedness of our nation’s fisheries.” – Linda Behnken, Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association

The FCC fishermen and representatives met with many offices on both sides of the aisle that were new for the Coalition and FCC members are excited to continue many of the great conversations started during the meetings as the appropriations process continues into 2016.