FCC Applauds Senate Commerce Committee Approval of Young Fishermen's Development Act

FCC Applauds Senate Commerce Committee Approval of Young Fishermen's Development Act 

Community Fishermen Hail Advance of Bipartisan Initiative to Boost America's Future Fishermen, Urge House Action

Washington, D.C. – Members of the Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC) cheered a major step forward for the Young Fishermen's Development Act (H.R.1240, S.496), as the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved the FCC-backed legislation in a markup earlier today. The bipartisan bill, championed by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) in the Senate, addresses the graying of America’s fishing fleet by establishing the first national program for young people entering the commercial fishing industry.

“The Young Fishermen’s Development Act will help equip the next generation of commercial fishermen for success as both fishermen and champions for sustainable fisheries,” said Linda Behnken, Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, a member of the FCC. “We are grateful that Alaska’s Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski and Representative Don Young are leading the push for America’s future fishermen. The Young Fishermen’s Development Act is a solid investment in our fishing communities and in our country.”

“Fishing is a huge industry in Alaska, employing more than any other in our state,” said Senator Sullivan. “It is incredibly important that we help break down barriers that prevent new fishermen from filling the ranks of our fishing sector. I appreciate my colleagues advancing my bipartisan bill that will bolster training opportunities and apprenticeship programs, harness the expertise of our experienced fishermen, and offer new grants to enable more young entrepreneurs to build rewarding careers as fishermen.”

“The Young Fishermen’s Development Act is about opportunity and jobs, food security, and a way of life rooted in tradition here in the Gulf and elsewhere,“ said Eric Brazer, Deputy Director of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, a member of the FCC. “We are grateful to Chairman Wicker and the members of the Committee for moving this important bipartisan initiative forward and urge the House to build on this momentum.”

The Committee's Ranking Member, Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, said she was pleased the Committee had advanced legislation that will “help give technical assistance to young fishermen looking to start in the maritime sector.”

Young fishermen representing FCC members from every U.S. coast have traveled to Washington, D.C., advocating for the Young Fishermen’s Development Act (YFDA), which would solidify and unite current piecemeal training efforts into a cohesive, national initiative to train, educate, and mentor young and beginning commercial fishermen in sustainable fishing and business practices.

“Today’s action by the Senate is a big step forward in this vital push to enact legislation that will make a real difference for our young fishermen and New England’s fishing economies,” said John Pappalardo, CEO of The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, a member of the FCC. “We thank Senator Ed Markey for his leadership in guiding this bipartisan bill through the committee and are grateful for the strong support of Senator Elizabeth Warren.”

Learn more about the Young Fishermen’s Development Act.

Fishing Communities Applaud Rep. Huffman’s Magnuson-Stevens Act Listening Tour

Fishing Communities Applaud Rep. Huffman’s Magnuson-Stevens Act Listening Tour

Community-based Fishing Groups Look Forward to Engaging on How to Make Oceans and Fisheries Healthier, More Sustainable

Washington, D.C. — The Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC) — representing more than 1,000 small-boat, independent fishermen and business owners from Maine to Alaska — praised Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA) today for announcing a listening tour this fall on the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). This series of roundtable discussions will tap into the expertise of fishermen and other stakeholders to assess how the MSA could be updated through the reauthorization process in order to improve the health of our oceans and fisheries.

Originally enacted in 1976, the MSA is the primary federal law governing America’s fisheries, and has proven successful in preventing overfishing and rebuilding badly depleted fish stocks through responsible science-based fisheries management. The FCC strongly supports Rep. Huffman, Chair of the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee, in his endeavor to hear directly from our nation’s fishermen as he develops legislation reauthorizing the MSA.

“Chairman Huffman is a true champion of America’s water resources, and we applaud his commitment to engage all stakeholders and identify ways to improve our fisheries and vital marine ecosystems,” said John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, a founding member of the FCC. “The Magnuson-Stevens Act is an excellent tool for promoting sustainable fisheries management, and we look forward to sharing ideas for making it even better. Small-boat, community-based fishermen are committed to doing our part to inform and improve marine policy to protect our fishing communities, both today and for generations to come.”

Rep. Huffman’s listening tour will begin in the fall of 2019 and will engage audiences who have a stake in preserving the health of our public ocean resources nationwide. Learn more about the MSA here.

Bipartisan Push for Young Fishermen's Development Act in New Congress

Bipartisan Push for Young Fishermen's Development Act in New Congress

Legislation to Support Future Fishermen Introduced in House, Senate

Washington, D.C. – A bipartisan House and Senate coalition has introduced the Young Fishermen's Development Act (H.R.1240, S.496), legislation that would establish the first national program to support young men and women entering the commercial fishing industry. The strong show of bipartisan support early in the 116th Congress indicates positive momentum for the Fishing Communities Coalition’s (FCC) initiative. 

Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Senate bill; Representatives Don Young (R-AK), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Jared Golden (D-ME), and Amata Radewagen (R-American Samoa) co-authored the House bill. 

“Young Mainers need opportunities for good-paying jobs that stay here in Maine,” said Rep. Jared Golden (ME-2). “Preparing them to enter our fishing industry is just common sense. Our bill provides training and resources to Maine’s next generation of commercial fishermen, helping them get their sea legs and support our coastal economies. I’m focused on supporting Maine’s heritage industries and bringing good-paying jobs to communities across our state.”

“The next generation of commercial fishermen is essential to the future of Maine’s fishing communities and others like them across the country,” said Ben Martens, Executive Director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, a member of the FCC. “This legislation will help ensure our future fishermen have the training and tools necessary to succeed in an increasingly complicated and rapidly changing fishing industry. We are proud and grateful that Maine’s entire congressional delegation is taking a strong leadership role on this vital issue.”

First introduced in 2017, the Young Fishermen’s Development Act (YFDA) 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. Young fishermen representing FCC members from every U.S. coast have traveled to Washington, D.C., to urge legislators to support the initiative.  

“Ensuring new generations of Alaskans fill the ranks is vitally important to our fishing economy, which employs more in our state than any other industry,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan (AK). “I’m excited to again sponsor legislation that will help lower the high barriers to entry with training opportunities, new grants, and an apprenticeship program that will connect seasoned fishermen with determined newcomers.”

“Young commercial fishermen are facing bigger challenges than ever before – new barriers to entry, limited training opportunities, and a lack of support,” said Rep. Don Young (AK-At Large). “Fishing is important not only to Alaskan culture but is central to our rich history. Our legislation is about supporting the livelihoods of fishing communities across the nation by making the next generation aware of the opportunities available in the commercial fishing industry. I’m proud to stand with our young fishermen by introducing this important piece of legislation.”

“Young fishermen face enormous challenges, yet there is currently no federal program to support education and training for the next generation of commercial fishermen,” said Linda Behnken, Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, a member of the FCC. “To excel, the next generation of commercial fishermen must develop a broad range of skills. They must be proficient in navigation, business management, hydraulics, diesel mechanics, fisheries management - and, of course, they need to know how to catch fish! Alaska’s fishing communities are grateful to Congressman Young for introducing and shepherding this important legislation through the House and to Senators Sullivan and Murkowski for their leadership in the Senate.”  

"Fishing is one of the oldest jobs there is, but the industry is changing rapidly with the evolution of our economy,” Rep. Seth Moulton (MA-6) said. “Congress needs to step up so a new generation of Americans in Gloucester and in communities across the country can access the skills and technology they need to succeed as commercial fishermen. I’m grateful to Representatives Young and Golden for their collaboration on this bill and in broader efforts to support the sustainable commercial fishing industry and the communities where fishing isn't just a job, but a way of life."

“Fishermen today are entrepreneurs in a complicated industry, so they need to know a lot more than how to find the fish,” said John Pappalardo, CEO of The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “We appreciate Congressman Moulton’s leadership, with strong bipartisan support, to equip the next generation of fishermen with the training they need to continue providing sustainable seafood to the American public.”

Check out FCC’s video, A Future on the Water, featuring hardworking, small-boat commercial fishermen telling their stories and discussing the importance of the YFDA. 

Shutdown Creates Headwinds for Commercial Fishermen

Shutdown Creates Headwinds for Commercial Fishermen

Furloughs Halt Fisheries Permits and Projects; Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Management Program Implementation Faces Uncertainty

Washington, D.C. – America’s fishing communities are feeling the negative effects of the ongoing partial federal government shutdown, with key fisheries resources — including quota transaction approvals necessary for some fishermen to get on the water — cut off due to furloughed staff and shuttered offices.  

The shutdown has also disrupted National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) quota monitoring and stock assessments in locations across the country, deprived Coast Guard members of their paychecks, and imperiled the timely implementation of a critical state recreational red snapper management program in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We appreciate everything NMFS is doing while they’re forced to operate incredibly short-handed, but this federal shutdown is hurting Gulf Coast fishermen and coastal fishing communities from Texas to Florida, and may derail a sustainable management plan for the Gulf’s iconic red snapper fishery,” said Eric Brazer, Deputy Director of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance. “Commercial fishermen, charter fishermen, and private recreational anglers have spent years working to reach common ground, and now this shutdown could delay the sustainable solution that private anglers have been looking for.”

The Gulf red snapper plan is part of a long list of harmful shutdown impacts facing the U.S. Commercial Fishing & Seafood Industry, which generated $144 billion in sales and supported 1.2 million jobs in 2016.*

“Alaska’s fishermen are feeling the pain of the shutdown, and the consequences become more serious every day it continues,” said Linda Behnken of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA). "We are working to help young fishermen gain access to local fisheries, but that access depends on government workers being at their desks to process transfers and manage fisheries — none of which is happening right now."

 NMFS furloughs have disrupted or halted the review and approval of Exempted Fishing Permits (EFP), quota transfers that fishermen depend on to earn a living, economic development grants, stock assessments and key scientific studies, and assessments necessary to maintain America’s sustainable fisheries, among other impacts.

 “With critical cooperative research and exempted fishing permits on hold, the Cape’s fishermen are facing uncertainty due to the shutdown,” said John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “The absence of staff needed to input landings data and monitor quota presents a significant risk of fishermen going over quotas, threatening the health of our fisheries and the long-term financial well-being of our commercial fishermen.”

 “New England’s fisheries rely on the federal government to ensure fishermen can get off the docks and catch the seafood we all love,” said Ben Martens, Executive Director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association. “With an extended shutdown, livelihoods, on the water accountability, and the sustainability of our marine resources will all be put at risk as stock assessments and management priorities, and necessary rulemakings become impossible with new constraints and timelines.” 



*NOAA Fisheries: Fisheries Economics of the United States, 2016

New Congress Presents Opportunity for Bipartisan Progress on Sustainable Fisheries Policy

Commercial Fishermen: New Congress Presents Opportunity for Bipartisan Progress on Sustainable Fisheries Policy  

Community Fishermen Urge Lawmakers to Stand Up for Sustainable Fisheries, Young Fishermen

Washington, DC – With the 116th Congress set to take office in January, members of the Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC) are urging lawmakers in Washington to defend sustainable marine fisheries management and conservation gains under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

“Supporting the men and women who make a living on the water by ensuring the sustainable management of America’s fisheries has always been a bipartisan endeavor,” said John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “America’s commercial fishermen expect the next Congress to work in good faith to advance science-based fisheries legislation and defend the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which has demonstrated remarkable success in rebuilding fish stocks in U.S. waters.” 

Earlier this year, NOAA Fisheries reported that the number of fish on the overfished list reached an all-time low in 2017, thanks to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Efforts to gut America’s primary marine fisheries law fell flat earlier this year in the face of bipartisan opposition. The failed push was led by well-financed corporate interests, including foreign engine and yacht manufacturers.

“Fisheries policy must protect America’s marine resources and strengthen fishing communities, not advance corporate agendas,” said Dwayne Oberhoff, Executive Director of the Morro Bay Community Quota Fund. “We look forward to meeting and working with members of the 116th Congress to ensure a sustainable fishing future for American consumers and the men and women working hard every day to provide them with locally harvested, sustainable seafood.”

The Fishing Communities Coalition’s seven member organizations, representing over 1,000 fishermen from Maine, Cape Cod, the Gulf of Mexico, California, and Alaska, also urged lawmakers to back efforts to empower young commercial fishermen.    

“Young men and women looking to start a career in commercial fishing face daunting challenges, including high cost of entry, financial risks, and limited entry-level opportunities,” said Theresa Peterson, Fisheries Policy Director of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council. “Breaking down the high barriers to entry for the next generation of commercial fishermen is critical to the very survival of our fishing communities.”