Bill to Establish National Young Fishermen’s Program Introduced

 

For Immediate Release: April 12, 2017

Contact: John Bray (202) 618-3364  

Bill to Establish National Young Fishermen’s Program Introduced

FCC Initiative Gains Momentum as Reps. Young (AK), Moulton (MA) Sponsor Legislation to Empower Next Generation of Commercial Fishermen

Washington, DC – Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) have introduced the Young Fishermen's Development Act of 2017 (H.R. 2079), a bill that would establish the first national program to support young men and women entering the commercial fishing industry. The bipartisan, bicoastal bill, which would provide grants of up to $200,000 (totaling $2 million annually) through NOAA’s Sea Grant Program, marks a big step forward in the Fishing Communities Coalition’s (FCC) push to launch the first coordinated, nationwide effort to train, educate and assist the next generation of commercial fishermen.

“Representatives Moulton and Young understand that the success of young fishermen is vital to the survival of fishing communities in New England and across the country,” said John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “We look forward to working with them on this important effort to ensure the next generation of commercial fishermen are on the water and ready to sustainably harvest America’s seafood.”

Despite daunting challenges that have made it harder than ever for young men and women to start a career in commercial fishing – including the high cost of entry, financial risks and limited entry-level opportunities – there is not a single federal program dedicated to training, educating and assisting young people starting their careers in commercial fishing. The legislation introduced in Congress is modeled after the USDA’s successful Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which is credited with preparing hundreds of young farmers and ranchers for rewarding careers in agriculture.

“Congressman Young understands the challenges young fishermen face, and we thank him for his strong leadership on this vital issue,” said Linda Behnken, Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association. “Empowering the next generation of young fishermen is essential to economic opportunity, food security and our way of life.”

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have expressed initial support for the legislation, as dozens of FCC members, including commercial fishermen from New England, Alaska, California and the Gulf Coast, have met with them to promote this and other priorities of small-boat community-based commercial fishermen.

“Young commercial fishermen are facing bigger challenges than ever before,” said Rep. Young (AK). “This legislation is about supporting the livelihoods that support entire fishing communities in Alaska and around the country. I am extremely proud to stand up with them.”

“The fishing industry is vital to the Sixth District and to our entire region, but we’re at a crossroads,” said Rep. Moulton (MA). “This legislation will help to sustain the fishing industry by ensuring that our young people not only have a future in fishing, but are also empowered with the training and resources necessary to thrive in the 21st-century economy. I’m grateful to Congressman Young for his collaboration on this bill and broader efforts to support our young fishermen.”

At the end of the month, young fishermen representing FCC members from every U.S. coast will travel to Washington to encourage Congress to pass this important legislation.

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The Fishing Communities Coalition is the united voice for small-boat, community-focused, commercial fishermen from around the country who strive to bring their stewardship vision to bear on national issues. We believe that together, fishermen from around the United States who believe in community-focused ideals, science-based management and forward-looking policies can build a national movement that protects fish, fishermen and fishing communities for this and future generations.

FCC Letter to Congress: White House Budget Puts Fishing at Risk

The Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC), an association of community-based, small boat commercial fishermen, today urged Congress to reject the President’s proposed cuts to programs that are vital to the viability of the American commercial fishing industry and their communities.

In a letter delivered to lawmakers responsible for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) annual budget, the FCC emphasized that President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request would risk recent progress in halting overfishing and rebuilding overfished stocks: 

Securing America’s Fishing Future

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 6, 2017

Contact: John Bray (202) 618-3364 

Securing America's Fishing Future

Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC) Urges Congress to Break Down Barriers for Young Fishermen, Build on Sustainability Progress

Washington, DC – As the 115th Congress prepares for an active 2017 legislative agenda, commercial fishermen from New England, the Gulf Coast and Alaska traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress and staff to advocate on behalf of small boat fishing communities and sustainable fisheries.

In their meetings with more than 30 Congressional offices and committees, FCC members representing more than 1,000 commercial fishermen emphasized the importance of building on the successful Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), which has helped rebuild depleted fish stocks through sustainable fisheries management.

“At this pivotal moment, it is more important than ever to ensure that decision-makers in Washington have a clear understanding of why smart, sustainable fishing policies are vital to the livelihoods of fishermen and the future of the industry,” said John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “We must build on the progress we’ve made to ensure current and future generations of commercial fishermen can sustainably harvest America’s seafood.”

FCC members advocated for the organization’s proposed National Young Fishermen’s Development Program, a bipartisan initiative that would tackle a serious and growing challenge: due to high cost of entry, financial risks and limited entry-level opportunities, it is more difficult than ever for young men and women to start a career in commercial fishing.

“Young fishermen today must navigate a tough obstacle course to enter this proud and important profession, which is why we are heartened to see growing support in Congress for this initiative,” said Linda Behnken, Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association. “Empowering the next generation of fishermen with the tools they need to succeed is crucial to the survival of many coastal communities across the country.”  

FCC members discussed a range of priorities related to the MSA, including maintaining science based decision-making, improving monitoring and accountability, strengthening community protections, fully funding the science needed to responsibly manage the fisheries and reducing bycatch. Thanks to the success of the MSA and other federal, state and local sustainability initiatives, the U.S. has rebuilt 40 marine fish stocks in U.S. waters since 2000. More than ever, the commercial fishing and seafood related industries are a critical part of the U.S. economy, supporting 1.4 million American jobs and generating $153 billion in annual sales. 

“Thanks in large part to the success of Magnuson, red snapper have made a huge comeback in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Eric Brazer, Deputy Director for the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance. “Any reauthorization of this legislation must build upon this strong foundation, which has created successful fishing businesses and provided consumers with more access to American seafood products.” 

 

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National Young Fishermen’s Development Program Gains Congressional Support

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 12, 2016

National Young Fishermen’s Development Program Gains Congressional Support

Washington, DC: The Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC) announced today that their proposed National Young Fishermen’s Development Program gained support from Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle during recent meetings in Washington, D.C. Over the past several months, dozens of FCC commercial fishermen members have met with more than 30 congressional offices to promote this sorely needed program.

“We are all thrilled that this proposal has received such a warm welcome on Capitol Hill,” said Linda Behnken, Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association. “We’ve brought a number of young Alaskan fishermen to Washington to demonstrate the real need for this program and the difficulties facing our industry in recruiting qualified young fishermen.” 

Currently, there is not a single federal program dedicated to training, educating and assisting the next generation of commercial fishermen and the need could not be greater. Without a new generation of fishermen, consumer access to domestically-caught seafood will disappear along with fishing jobs and portside infrastructure.

Numerous challenges, like the high cost of entry, financial risks and the lack of entry-level opportunities have significantly reduced the opportunities for young people to start a career in commercial fishing. The Young Fishermen’s Development Program would help expand upon current, but very limited, regional efforts underway and initiate a federal program to support our nation’s beginning commercial fishermen and ensure a continuous supply of safe, healthy American seafood to market.

The program is modeled after the USDA’s successful Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which Congress enacted several years ago to ensure the future of that industry.  That program is credited with preparing hundreds of young farmers and ranchers for industry careers.

“The average age of those engaged in the commercial fishing industry, like the farming industry a number of years ago, continues to increase,” said John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance.  “We must act now to ensure that the next generation of commercial fishermen are well prepared to sustainably harvest America’s seafood and support our coastal communities.”

In addition to congressional support, the FCC intends to meet with representatives from the Trump Administration and seek their support for this exciting program aimed at preserving fishing communities, creating jobs for young fishermen and ensuring a sustainable supply of American-caught seafood to market.

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The Fishing Communities Coalition is the united voice for small-boat, community-focused, commercial fishermen from around the country who strive to bring their stewardship vision to bear on national issues. We believe that together, fishermen from around the United States who believe in community-focused ideals, science-based management and forward-looking policies can build a national movement that protects fish, fishermen and fishing communities for this and future generations.

 

 

FCC Members Selected as White House Champions of Change for Sustainable Seafood

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 6, 2016

 

FCC Members Selected as White House Champions of Change for Sustainable Seafood

Washington, DC: The Fishing Communities Coalition is proud to announce the selection of two of its members, Linda Behnken and Jason DeLaCruz, to receive the first-ever award for “Champion of Change for Sustainable Seafood.” This White House initiative sought to recognize 12 individuals supporting sustainable fisheries and contributing to the recovery of America’s fishing industry and our fishing communities.

Linda Behnken, the current Executive Director for the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) and a founding member of the FCC, has fished commercially off Alaska for over 30 years. Linda served on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, the North Pacific Anadramous Fish Commission, and was recently appointed to serve as Commissioner to the International Pacific Halibut Commission. With project partners, Linda helped launch Alaskans Own, Alaska’s first community supported fishery program, and the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, which is focused on helping the next generation of community-based fishermen secure access to healthy fisheries. “It is a true honor to have been selected as a White House Champion of Change for Sustainable Seafood. I am excited to see that sustainable fisheries is garnering the national attention it deserves. I look forward to working with Alaskans, and others, to ensure that the incredible fisheries resources harvested in our region remain healthy, sustainable, and available for all U.S. citizens to enjoy,” said Behnken.

Jason DeLaCruz has built up his commercial fishing business to include fishing vessels and a successful wholesale fish market, Wild Seafood Co., which he runs with his wife, Vicky. Jason is also currently the Vice President of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, a non-profit fishermen's educational organization that is working to protect the Gulf’s fish and fishermen for today and for future generations. Additionally, Jason was a co-founder of Gulf Wild, a comprehensive seafood traceability program that is built upon a series of conservation covenants and utilizes unique tags to track fish from the boat to the plate. “Jason’s commitment to seafood traceability and conservation has helped brand Gulf Wild as the nation's premier seafood traceability program. He invests a lot of time building relationships, which makes him a great businessman and an exceptional leader. We're glad to have him onboard and believe he's more than worthy of this national award,” said Glen Brooks, President of Gulf Wild.

We are proud to have Jason and Linda’s continued efforts to ensure the sustainability of our Nation’s fisheries recognized by President Obama and his Administration.

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The Fishing Communities Coalition is the united voice for small-boat, community focused, commercial fishermen from around the country who strive to bring their stewardship vision to bear on national issues. We believe that together, fishermen from around the United States who believe in community-focused ideals, science-based management, and forward-looking policies can build a national movement that protects fish, fishermen, and fishing communities for this and future generations.