News Releases

Marine Monuments Letter to Representative Rob Bishop

March 22, 2017 - Published in News Releases

March 13, 2017

The Honorable Rob Bishop
Chairman
House Committee on Natural Resources
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Bishop:

On behalf of the Seafood Harvesters of America, I want to express our appreciation for your leadership in examining the creation and management of marine monuments and sanctuaries. The extensive use of the Antiquities Act has unnecessarily impacted the commercial fishing industry, which has otherwise willingly adopted responsible approaches to prevent overfishing.

The Harvesters represent over 3,900 small businesses, 19,000 jobs, almost $500 million in income and $1.25 billion in economic output. Our members are privileged to go to sea every day from the Gulf of Alaska, to the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Maine bringing to market healthy, domestic, sustainable seafood. We honor, depend upon and live with accountability in our fisheries and transparency in the regulatory process. Through the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), our fisheries have improved dramatically as the commercial fishing industry has become more responsible, accountable, and efficient.

The MSA allows for identification of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) and regulatory mechanisms for preventing fishing in areas designated as essential. This process had been completed through the New England Fishery Management Council, which would have designated extensive areas for EFH protection along the Atlantic Seaboard, from the Carolinas to the Canadian border. This collaborative decade-long process that incorporated the best science available, stakeholder engagement and featured transparency was overridden by the establishment of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. With the stroke of a pen, President Obama unnecessarily took fishermen off the water across vast stretches of traditional fishing grounds, threatening local economies, increasing our seafood deficit, and ignoring the federal fishery management process.

While management decisions to reduce quotas or restrict fishing are always contentious, we willfully engage in the process and abide by the decisions made through the regional council process as it has worked to prevent overfishing, rebuilt dozens of fish stocks and provided greater regulatory and economic certainty for our industry. Consequently, we believe that fishery decisions should continue to be managed through the MSA-established processes and not be subject to restrictions through the monument designation process.

We look forward to working with you to ensure that we have a sustainable, renewable and a stable seafood supply that is managed with regulatory certainty and not subject to politically driven executive action.

Sincerely,

Chris Brown, President

Kevin Wheeler, Executive Director

Kevin Wheeler Joins Seafood Harvesters

December 11, 2016 - Published in News Releases

NEWS RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT: Scott Coughlin, (206) 228-4141, scott@seafoodharvesters.org

Kevin Wheeler Joins Seafood Harvesters

New executive director brings extensive oceans and public affairs expertise to leading commercial fishing group

(WASHINGTON – December 12, 2016) The Seafood Harvesters of America announced today that they have hired Kevin Wheeler, of Arlington, VA, as their executive director.

Kevin comes to the Seafood Harvesters after serving ten years as Vice President and Director of Public Affairs at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, where he was responsible for developing, advocating for and implementing ocean research priorities on behalf of more than 100 of the nation’s leading ocean research and educational institutions. In that role he served as primary liaison between the ocean science community and Congress, the executive branch, federal agencies and non-governmental organizations. He and his staff also led advocacy coalitions in support of budgets for federal agencies including NSF, NOAA and DOD.

Formerly, Kevin was the Director of Federal Relations for Brown University; worked on the Science Committee for the U.S. House of Representatives; served as the Special Assistant to the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; and also worked on Capitol Hill as Press Secretary and Legislative Assistant to former Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY).

“Our organization is at an exciting growth stage and we really wanted to get this hire right,” said Seafood Harvesters’ President Christopher Brown. “Kevin is extremely well prepared to take our members to a new level of engagement and influence at the federal level. His management experience, his Capitol Hill committee and staff work, and his years at Ocean Leadership are great preparation, and we could not be happier about welcoming him on board.”

“I am truly honored to have been chosen to lead and provide a unified voice for the Seafood Harvesters at this most critical time, given the political transition occurring in Washington coupled with a rapidly changing ocean environment,” said Wheeler. “Together we will champion accountability, responsibility and innovation throughout our industry to ensure that future generations will have healthy, robust and sustainable fisheries to harvest.”

Kevin holds advanced degrees in Environmental Management and Public Administration from Duke and Binghamton Universities respectively. Kevin and his wife Marina reside in Arlington Virginia where they are raising their children Nikolai and Ekaterina.

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The Seafood Harvesters of America represent 17 member associations and over 3,900 commercial fishing businesses operating in waters of the North Pacific, West Coast, Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic and New England regions. Please learn more at seafoodharvesters.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

A New Administration and our Nation’s Fisheries

November 16, 2016 - Published in News Releases

November 16, 2016: Statement from Christopher Brown, President

Commercial fishing employs over 187,000 Americans and provides $14.8 billion in economic output. The Seafood Harvesters are a unified voice for thousands of small businesses and self-determined fishing families who exercise the privilege of putting delicious, healthful seafood on America’s dinner plates.

As harvesters of a public resource we recognize and embrace our stewardship responsibility. We strive for accountability in our fisheries and encourage others to do the same. In doing so we honor both the bounty of our oceans and the many millions of Americans who enjoy seafood.

We know that the only way to ensure a plentiful and lasting seafood harvest for America is through science-based management of our fisheries. By respecting both the letter and the spirit of the Magnuson-Stevens Act – our nation’s foundational fisheries law – America’s commercial fishermen have played a central role in the remarkable success of U.S. fisheries and a 98% increase in the sustainability of our 199 most important fish stocks. When we focus on accountability in fishing practices and fishery management we make economic success possible, while at the same time working to curb illegal and unregulated seafood imports that put American workers and consumers at risk.

We call on the incoming Trump administration to join us in championing tens of thousands of commercial fishing businesses in this country. And we look forward to working with accountability-focused members of the recreational fishing community as they demonstrate their own commitment to the economic and environmental sustainability of our nation’s priceless marine resources.

*  *  *

The Seafood Harvesters represent 17 member associations and over 3,900 commercial fishing businesses operating in the North Pacific, West Coast, Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic and New England regions. Harvesters’ members are: Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association, Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, Cordova District Fishermen United, Fishing Vessel Owners Association, Fort Bragg Groundfish Association, George’s Bank Cod Fixed Gear Sector, Inc., Gulf Fishermen’s Association, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, Midwater Trawlers Cooperative, New Hampshire Groundfish Sectors, North Pacific Fisheries Association, Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association, Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association, South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association, United Catcher Boats. For more information please visit our website or contact Scott Coughlin: scott@seafoodharvesters.org.

Harvesters’ President Among White House Honorees

October 4, 2016 - Published in News Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 5, 2016

Award honors “Champions of Change” for Sustainable Seafood

Washington, D.C (October 5, 2016) – Rhode Island commercial fisherman Christopher Brown will be among those honored by the White House on October 7th as a Champion of Change for Sustainable Seafood. Chris serves as president of the Seafood Harvesters of America.

“I’m looking forward to accepting this award on behalf of commercial fishermen,” said Brown. “In recent years we’ve made significant progress in rebuilding US fisheries and advancing accountable, sustainable fishing practices. There’s more to be done, but we’re light years ahead of where we were when I got into this business.”

The Seafood Harvesters represent fishermen from the Bering Sea to the West Coast, and from the Gulf of Mexico to Maine. In addition to serving as the Harvesters’ president, Brown fishes some 200 days per year aboard his vessel, Proud Mary, based out Point Judith, RI. He also serves as president of the Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association and the East Farm Commercial Fisheries Center.

“Here in New England we have an overhang of mistrust between fishermen and the National Marine Fisheries Service,” added Brown. “The mistrust prevents us from obtaining accurate stock assessments of our fish stocks, so catch limits are set artificially low. Fishermen resent the low limits, and it builds a negative feedback loop. There are proven, constructive ways to get around this, including electronic monitoring and more reliable assessment methodologies for catch accounting, but it takes time. We’re working hard on this.”

“Our foundational fisheries law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, provides the platform to protect sensitive areas while creating world-leading fisheries management structures, new fishing opportunities and vibrant port communities,” continued Brown. “Unfortunately, Magnuson-Stevens was bypassed in recent decision-making regarding a marine monument site selection off New England, and that is a message I will bring to the White House. Harvesters’ members understand the components of sustainable fisheries and we know they are attainable. Through our widespread membership and with the support of forward-looking decision makers at the federal level, we are spreading the word.”

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Statement on the Administration’s Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument Designation

September 15, 2016 - Published in News Releases

By Christopher Brown, President                                                              September 15, 2016

The Seafood Harvesters of America represents commercial fishermen from Maine to Florida, Texas to the West Coast and north to the Gulf of Alaska and beyond. Everything we do in our work as fishermen and in our advocacy for accountable and sustainable fishery practices is based on our nation’s foundational fisheries law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, or MSA. Commercial fishing is not a right, it is a privilege bestowed by the laws of our country. We take that privilege very seriously.

And with privilege comes obligation. A president has an obligation to uphold the laws of this land before exercising the privilege of his office. Exercised incompletely and with little regard for science – and the public’s informed input – MSA is quickly reduced to little more than an instrument of punishment to be taken to us when it is politically expedient. The Act is capable of so much more and we are deserving of so much better.

Magnuson-Stevens allows for identification of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH), and regulatory mechanisms for preventing fishing in areas designated as EFH. In the Northeast we have just completed a 10-year process working closely with the New England Fishery Management Council to designate – again, within and under the MSA – extensive areas for EFH protection. Voluntarily and in a deeply collaborative fashion, we have taken ourselves “off the water” across vast areas of the Atlantic seaboard, from the Carolinas to the Canadian border. This has not been easy, this has not been without pain, but it has taken place within the spirit and the letter of the law that we live by.

That’s why we are so disappointed at the course chosen by the Administration in setting aside the MSA and declaring this Connecticut-sized marine monument. Although we applaud the fact that oil drilling will not be allowed in the area covered by the monument, the Administration has chosen to disregard the fact that commercial fishing will also be prevented. MSA provides a framework that we all could have worked within together, to prevent drilling and other potentially harmful activities while allowing for continued, well-managed commercial fishing.

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument designation takes fishermen off the water across vast stretches of traditional fishing grounds unnecessarily, without due consideration and collaboration. It is a sad day when the creative potential of the Magnuson-Stevens Act is set aside in a unilateral fashion through executive action in favor of a declaration that threatens severe unintended consequences – not just for New England fishermen but for the foundational integrity of the regional fishery management council process and our nation’s premier fisheries law.

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Harvesters recruit for new executive director

August 5, 2016 - Published in News Releases

Recruiting for Executive Director

Download this position posting: Harvesters Exec. Dir. Position

Position: Full time executive director for the Seafood Harvesters of America and affiliated foundation

Compensation: Competitive and commensurate with experience and qualifications

Location: Flexible

Application Deadline: September 8, 2016

The Seafood Harvesters of America (“the Harvesters”) is recruiting and evaluating candidates for executive director. The Harvesters are a national non-profit 501(c)(4) organization with an affiliated 501(c)(3) foundation launched in 2014. They are a leading voice for our nation’s commercial fishing industry.

Position Description

Working closely with the Harvesters’ board of directors and the affiliated (c)(3) board, the executive director works both directly and with consultants to carry out the following:

Responsibilities & Duties

Board Relations

  • Ensure that boards are fully informed on activities and operations
  • Develop agendas and materials for board meetings and conference calls
  • Participate with the boards in strategic and operational planning

Organizational Leadership and Administration

  • Oversee daily operations of (c)(4) and (c)(3)
  • Review the Harvesters’ activities and ensure activities support their stated goals and objectives
  • Ensure that activities approved by the boards are implemented in a timely manner
  • Oversee vendor contracts necessary to carry out the aims of the organization

Financial Management

  • Develop annual budget with the boards and Finance Committee
  • Ensure adherence to budget
  • Ensure that funds of the organization are appropriately safeguarded and administered

Fundraising

  • Oversee the Harvesters’ fundraising including grants, membership, charitable donations and sponsorships
  • Strategically engage donors to strengthen relationships and build support

Government Relations

  • Follow legislation; engage and educate decision-makers on Capitol Hill on legislative priorities
  • Prepare and coordinate with members to deliver letters and comments to Congress on proposed regulations, legislation and other issues of importance
  • Coordinate all aspects of legislative fly-ins of members to Washington, D.C.
  • Ensure that the Harvesters are well represented before Congress and federal agencies

Member Relations

  • Serve as point-person for current members and member recruits; stay current on issues of greatest concern to members
  • Maintain assertive and consistent member communications including regular email updates
  • Oversee annual membership meeting

Communications

  • Promote the Harvesters’ mission, vision and values to members and partners
  • Oversee effective public relations and media campaigns to include press release development; quarterly newsletter; regular email updates to members; social media engagement; media inquiries; and website

Experiences and Qualifications

  • Understanding of how to work with a board
  • Knowledge of legislative process and comfortable interacting with legislators and their staffs
  • Baseline knowledge of the commercial fishing industry
  • Excellent written and verbal communications skills
  • Entrepreneurial, innovative and thoughtful approach
  • Experience in fundraising and grant administration
  • Track record of effectively working with stakeholders in fisheries, marine resources, environmental organizations, or government preferred
  • Previous nonprofit experience preferred
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher required

Note: Ability to travel required

Send cover letter and resume by September 8, 2016 to Stacey Barnes: Recruitment@AssociationOptions.com

Harvesters’ Letter to U.S. Coast Guard Concerning the Alternative Safety Compliance Program and Industry Outreach

May 12, 2016 - Published in News Releases

 

The following letter was sent by the Seafood Harvesters to the Coast Guard’s Chief of Commercial Vessel Compliance, May 10, 2016.

Captain Kyle McAvoy, USCG
Chief, Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance (CG-CVC)
United States Coast Guard, Stop 7501
2703 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20593-7501

Sent by email and USPS

Dear Captain McAvoy:

The Seafood Harvesters of America (the Harvesters) is a nationwide commercial fishermen’s association that represents 17 commercial fishing organizations from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico to New England[1]. We are writing to you today regarding the Coast Guard’s development of an alternate safety compliance program (ASCP) under section 4503(d) of 46 United States Code.

Section 4503 was amended in 2010 to require the Coast Guard to develop an ASCP in cooperation with the commercial fishing vessel industry. Section 4503(d) requires the Coast Guard to prescribe this program by no later than January 1, 2017, and requires commercial fishing vessels, fish processing vessels, and fish tender vessels subject to that subsection to comply with the ASCP by January 1, 2020. This provides the commercial fishing vessel industry three years to make the required physical changes to our vessels to comply with this program. While section 4503(d) was amended during the past year, the above basic parameters have remained in place for almost six years.

We are distressed by the lack of outreach by the Coast Guard given the above impending deadlines. When the Harvesters’ members contact District-level Coast Guard officials, it is clear to us that those officials generally do not understand how our industry is organized or how to contact us and have inconsistent understandings of Headquarters’ intentions. This is occurring more than five months after we wrote to the Coast Guard Headquarters Fishing Vessel Safety Division on November 18, 2015 offering to assist the Coast Guard in its outreach effort.

Given the statutory deadlines and the lack of outreach, we are concerned that the resulting ASCP will require many of us to make unnecessary and expensive changes to our vessels in less time than the statute intended to provide us. We request the Coast Guard immediately act on the following items:

  1. Assess commercial fishing vessel incidents causing loss of life or significant property damage on a regional and fishery basis and use this analysis to develop regional and fisheries-specific safety recommendations for the ASCP;
  2. Asses the extent to which changes in the management of each fishery have improved fishing vessel safety and reduced the risks of fishing vessel operations for each fishery and incorporate this into those fisheries-specific safety recommendations for the ASCP;
  3. Schedule and conduct within the next 60 days regional planning meetings to receive the input of all affected commercial fisheries;
  4. Provide commercial fishermen with a meaningful opportunity for public comment on draft ASCP regulations; and
  5. Dedicate sufficient resources to develop the ASCP in a timely manner while addressing the above concerns or request the Congress extend the statutory deadlines for the ASCP.

We understand that the Coast Guard has many mission requirements and limited resources, but we don’t understand why the Coast Guard has attempted so little outreach to our industry during the more than five years since section 4503(d) was enacted. We ask that you let us help you coordinate the increased outreach effort requested above. Our executive director (interim) is Scott Coughlin. He would be happy to assist your outreach specialists in any way. Scott can be reached at scott@seafoodharvesters.org or (202) 888-2733.

Thank you for your cooperation with this request.

Sincerely,

Chris Brown signature file

Christopher Brown
President

 

[1] Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association, Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, Cordova District Fishermen United, Fishing Vessel Owners Association, Fort Bragg Groundfish Association, George’s Bank Cod Fixed Gear Sector, Inc., Gulf Fishermen’s Association, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, Midwater Trawlers Cooperative, New Hampshire Groundfish Sectors, North Pacific Fisheries Association, Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association, Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association, South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association, United Catcher Boats.