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.