December 13, 2016 - Published in News Clippings
Editorial from the Charleston Post and Courier, December 3, 2016
Harvest Seafood Responsibly
You’d think that the mission of an organization called Seafood Harvesters of America would be to support harvesting seafood. And you’d be right — with a caveat.
The mission is to support fishing sustainably, so that future generations will be able to fish, too.
It will take some effort. For hundreds of years the oceans have provided bounteous seafood — more than enough to satisfy the appetites of commercial and recreational fishermen. So when some species became too sparse and the government imposed limits on them, fishermen bristled.
Still, numerous success stories can be told of species that were in jeopardy being resurrected. And that trend inspired commercial fishermen from the East Coast, West Coast and the Gulf of Mexico to form Seafood Harvesters. The organization recently had a membership meeting in Charleston.
Several of the organization’s leaders, all longtime fishermen, told us that commercial boats can make plenty of money and do their part to keep catches sustainable.
One tactic the organization supports is to allow fishing of vulnerable species year-round, but to monitor the catch carefully and to prevent fishing in spawning preserves.
Monitoring can be done electronically to diminish the temptation for fishermen to under-report their catches. Seafood Harvesters would like to make monitoring more cost-effective to use.
California fishermen could be an inspiration for others. In 2010 a number of rockfish species were in peril because of over-fishing. Reasonable limits were imposed, and they have since rebounded fully.
Seafood Harvesters of America is made up of fishermen, not scientists. But its members have determined that the best way to manage fisheries for the present — and the future — is to be conservationists too and to implement policies that are based on sound science. They have found that it is financially and physically worth modifying their habits as necessary.
The organization wants young people to fish, and believes that they will understand and embrace the need for conservation.
It says people don’t have the right to fish. It is a privilege, and it comes with an obligation: Do no harm.
“You don’t inherit the ocean from your father, you borrow it from your grandchildren,” said Rhode Island fisherman Christopher Brown, president of the organization.
Getting fisherman to recognize the necessity of a sustainable approach can be a challenge.
But it is, as Mr. Brown said, “a matter of enlightened self-interest.”
In other words, if it’s vital for the fish, it’s vital for the fishermen.
May 12, 2016 - Published in News Clippings
Please take a few minutes to read through this op-ed on accountability, industry-agency relations and the way forward for electronic monitoring in New England.
February 8, 2016 - Published in News Clippings
Brett Veerhusen, Executive Director of the Seafood Harvesters of America, and Chef Haley Bittermann of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group co-authored an op-ed in The Times-Picayune on the benefits of federal fishery management for red snapper.
“Since 2000, more than 37 overfished populations nationwide have been rebuilt to sustainable levels, and 91 percent of U.S. fishery stocks are not experiencing overfishing. Gulf red snapper — one of America’s most prized food fish — is caught predominantly by small, family-owned commercial fishing businesses in the Gulf of Mexico. Before the MSA, years of chronic overfishing and mismanagement depleted its stock. Thanks to a strong MSA, the red snapper was saved and its recovery continues.”
January 13, 2016 - Published in News Clippings
This year, the Seafood Harvesters of America are proud to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Magnuson-Stevens Act by urging Congress to continue supporting this landmark legislation. The Magnuson-Stevens Act is working and significant reforms are unnecessary. Our ad in the current issue of National Fisherman says it best. Congress, stand with what works. Stand with commercial fishermen and the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
October 20, 2015 - Published in News Clippings
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: (650) 646-5108
DATE: October 21, 2015
Commercial & Charter Fishermen Send Opposition Letter to Congress Ahead of Red Snapper Hearing
Seafood Harvesters of America Join Commercial and Charter Fishermen in Opposition to the Red Snapper Management Authority Act
September 14, 2015 - Published in News Clippings
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
DATE: September 14, 2015
Cordova District Fishermen United Joins the Seafood Harvesters of America
Alaska Group and DC Organization Unite to Amplify Commercial Fishermen’s Voices
Washington, DC – The Seafood Harvesters of America, an association now representing 17 commercial fishing organizations coast-to-coast, is excited to welcome their newest member, Cordova District Fishermen United (CDFU). A multi-gear organization, CDFU is a non-profit that plays an integral role in the preservation, promotion, and protection of commercial fishing in Alaska.
September 10, 2015 - Published in News Clippings
The Seafood Harvesters of America wish to extend our deepest condolences to the family of John Schmidt, who suddenly passed away on Monday. A devoted family man and a life-long commercial fisherman, John served our organization as Vice President, and as a Board member of the Gulf Fishermen’s Association. John was a founding member of the Harvesters, and was involved with the establishment of the organization.
Years ago, John turned his passion for fishing into a successful career – leading a thirteen-crew fishing business that catches grouper and red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. For John, fishing was more than a job. He had a strong passion to provide Americans with genuine, sustainable American seafood.
John’s role at the Harvesters allowed him to speak on behalf of commercial fishermen on issues such as accountability, stewardship, cooperation and the importance of maintaining access to the 97% of Americans who rely on commercial fishermen for their seafood. He was, undoubtedly, a dedicated and tireless voice for our organization. Today, we offer our thoughts, prayers, and enduring gratitude to everyone who knew and loved him.
His obituary can be found here: http://www.obitsforlife.com/obituary/1162702/Schmidt-John.php
September 1, 2015 - Published in News Clippings
Ahead of President Obama’s three-day trip to Alaska, Executive Director, Brett Veerhusen, sent a letter to the Administration on behalf of the Harvesters. Brett commended the President for sitting down with commercial fishermen during the trip, and urged Mr. Obama to address the important issues affecting commercial fishermen around the country. You can view the letter here.
August 31, 2015
The Honorable Barack Obama
The United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20006
Dear Mr. President,
The Seafood Harvesters of America (the Harvesters) represents 17 commercial fishing organizations from Alaska, to the Gulf of Mexico and New England. As its Executive Director, a life-long Alaskan fisherman, Bristol Bay fisherman, and the son of a man who has fished for 45 years in Alaskan waters, I welcome you to this great state.
The Harvesters applauds you for choosing to sit down with real, everyday Alaskan commercial fishermen who nobly harvest an American public resource. We urge you to take this opportunity to speak to the issues of importance that are essential to the livelihoods of commercial fishermen in Alaska and the nation.
We are writing to ask that you use your trip to Alaska, and your meeting with commercial fishermen in Bristol Bay, to send a strong message about how the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) is working for this nation. Alaskans have demonstrated the audacity to succeed in the presence of all the uncertainties associated with climate change. We do so as an industry shielded by a strong MSA, which guides a public, science-based decision-making process.
The Harvesters agree with your Administration that the MSA reauthorization needs minimal changes. While we are amenable to some minor changes, we are calling on lawmakers and your Administration to keep the MSA largely intact. Mr. President, one of our biggest concerns is legislative attempts to allow individual states to takeover species management in federal waters, which would set a dangerous precedent that could unravel the responsible management of America’s fisheries. Thank you for your tireless support of this time – and climate – tested document. U.S. fishery management is a beacon of prosperity within global fisheries.
The global economic environment that our products compete in is now protected through the establishment of your Task Force to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. By importing seafood, the U.S. imports the ethics and ethos of the country of origin’s fishing practices. As a world leader in sustainable fishery management, American consumers demand our imported seafood to be of the same ethics and ethos that American fishermen harvest. We commend the Task Force for recognizing sustainable fisheries as an enormous benefit to ocean stakeholders.
Additionally, we ask that the Seafood Harvesters of America have a seat at the table in future discussions regarding marine monuments and protected areas. It is critically important that these initiatives are locally driven and focus on best available science rather than politics. We look forward to working with your Administration to ensure that we protect our delicate ocean resources and our American fishing economy into the future.
Millions of people – grocery patrons, restaurant owners, and consumers nationwide – rely on commercial fisheries to help get their dinner from ocean to plate. In 2012 alone, Americans consumed 4.5 billion pounds of seafood, which added 1.3 million direct and indirect jobs to our nation’s economy. Seafood Harvesters of America is the voice for our country’s 190-foot trawlers as well as the 30-foot hook and line fishermen and are working hard to ensure the food security of our great nation remains sustainable and thriving.
With the support of your Administration and policy makers in Washington D.C., salmon, crab, pollock and snapper – to name just a few – will remain part of a complete American dinner.
Seafood Harvesters of America
July 19, 2015 - Published in News Clippings
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2015
STATE CONTROL OF RED SNAPPER NOTHING MORE THAN A RACE TO THE BOTTOM
Magnuson-Stevens Works, Rep. Graves’ Bill Unnecessary
(Washington, DC) Seafood Harvesters of America, Executive Director Brett Veerhusen issued the following statement today in response to introduction of the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority Act:
The Seafood Harvesters of America vehemently oppose this bill. Their proposal for state control of red snapper would hurt small commercial fishing businesses and restaurants throughout the Gulf who locally source delicious, sustainable American seafood to millions of restaurant patrons.
Representative Graves’ bill would effectively undo the successes of America’s law governing our federal fisheries – the Magnuson-Stevens Act – a landmark piece of legislation Americans should be proud of.
The benefits of this bill, none. The repercussions of this bill, many. This bill would threaten the availability of red snapper to local fishermen and restaurants across the country, which will most likely result in even more unsustainable overfishing by private anglers. It would also set a dangerous precedent of giving states the right to undermine federal fishery management requirements when private anglers do not agree with those requirements and putting in place a system where states would have little incentive to be stricter than their neighbor – creating a “race to the bottom” effect. Moreover, Graves’ bill would allow recreational fishermen to simply opt out of fishing rules set by the federal government, with impunity.
Commercially, red snapper is caught predominantly by small, family-owned fishing businesses in the Gulf of Mexico. Without these fishermen, red snapper would not be available in your local grocery’s fish case or on your favorite menu.
It is clear that Rep. Graves bill is intended to drive hardworking fishermen out of business and keep delicious domestic red snapper off the plates of American diners and consumers. This spring, he attempted to amend a bill with identical language, which failed. Now, he’s going at it again. Try as he may, Rep. Graves’ form of “venue-shopping”, in dissent with current Federal management of fisheries, can result in grave implications nationwide. We strongly urge all members of Congress to stand with the hardworking men and women that are Commercial Fishermen and send this bill to the bottom of the Gulf.
Seafood Harvesters of America (“The Harvesters”), an umbrella association representing 16 commercial fishing organizations from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico north to New England. For more information, please visit seafoodharvesters.org.