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Seafood Harvesters Applauds Senate Action In Support of America’s Commercial Fishing Fleet

July 24, 2014 - Published in News Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, July 24, 2014

Seafood Harvesters Applauds Senate Action In Support of America’s Commercial Fishing Fleet

Senate Agreement Could Avert Massive Fish Cliff for Economically-Critical Industry

Washington, DC – The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation favorably reported S. 2094 (the “Vessel Incidental Discharge Act,” or VIDA), introduced by Senator Begich and 30 co-sponsors, to deal with discharges incidental to the normal operation of a commercial fishing vessel on Wednesday. Seafood Harvesters of America President Chris Brown applauds the Senate for taking action on the measure, which has earned wide bi-partisan support:

“Harvesters urge the full Senate to consider S. 2094 on the floor as soon as possible, which will level the fishing field by extending an existing discharge exemption granted for recreational vessels to commercial vessels. If Congress fails to get this legislation signed into law before the end of the session, when the moratorium expires, it could push our economically-critical industry to the edge of a massive ‘fish cliff’.

“Congress must ensure that US commercial fishermen can continue to sustainably harvest our seafood resources for the benefit of American consumers, coastal communities, and the thousands of small business around the country that depend on continued access to US seafood. By advancing this important legislation the Committee has demonstrated its commitment to protecting not only the aquatic environment, but also the commercial fishing industry throughout the United States that depends on clean water for its livelihood.”

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Background:

• Congress.gov: S.2094 – Vessel Incidental Discharge Act — https://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/senate-bill/2094/text

Seafood Harvesters of America (“Harvesters”), an umbrella association representing 14 commercial fishing organizations from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico north to New England. For more information, please visit seafoodharvesters.org, or contact (202) 888-6296.

Seafood Harvesters offer robust defense of Magnuson Act, urge Senate not to make harmful changes

July 15, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

The Seafood Harvesters of America is an umbrella group that has pulled together 14 regional fishing associations from different parts of the US to make sure that the voices of those who are successfully harvesting well managed stocks are heard in the Magnuson reauthorization.

At a conference in Washington DC, last month, they had the opportunity to present their ideas to NOAA and Congressional staffers. Chris Brown, a harvester from Rhode Island, is president of the group.

Chris said “The industry is in recognition that the Magnuson Act is working. The scope of the Act does not need to be expanded to continue moving in the right direction. ”

As a commercial fishermen, “there is one document that guides our actions: the Magnuson Act. We do not subscribe to the beliefs that there should be dissimilar standards between the commercial and recreational fishery.”

In making comments about Magnuson, the Seafood Harvesters make these points:

“The Magnuson Stevens Act is working extraordinarily well and is a statute Americans should be proud of. In the 1980s and ‘90’s, many stocks around the Nation suffered significant declines. This resulted in untold job loss and severe economic harm to coastal communities across America. However, through considerable sacrifice on the part of the commercial fishing industry, significant progress has been made to rebuild overfished species and today they are the exception, not the rule. In 1999, NOAA listed 98 stocks as overfished; by 2012, only 40 stocks were overfished and 34 previously depleted fish stocks have been rebuilt. While there is still room for continued improvement, Harvesters are proud of the fact that 91% of U. S. fishery stocks are not experiencing overfishing. As previously mentioned, scientifically based fisheries management is the key to ensuring we continue this trend into the future. The stocks our members harvest are sustainably managed and we believe the Magnuson Stevens Act should be reauthorized with minimum overall changes to ensure we do not erode any of the progress commercial fishermen have made.”

Harvesters on the Hill

July 15, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

Anyone who fears the fishing industry is losing most of its youthful energy with an aging fleet of captains and crews certainly has reasons to worry. But for each of those reasons, I can think of quite a few young and enthusiastic fishermen and industry advocates who are going all out to make sure the industry is accessible and sustainable for their generation and many to come.

One of those stand-outs is Brett Veerhusen, who has been a drift-gillnet skipper in Bristol Bay and advocate for his fishery in the fight against Pebble Mine. Veerhusen recently helped launch the Seafood Harvesters of America. (See my story on this new advocacy group in the Around the Coasts section of our August issue and more on the role of young people in the industry in Senior Editor Linc Bedrosian’s Mixed Catch “Shrimping fits him to a Lil T” and Associate Editor Melissa Wood’s Coastlines“The fight for the future.”)

If you follow federal fish politics, you are well aware that many valiant efforts have been made toward national fishing advocacy groups. One of the things that makes this group different is that it’s based in Washington, D.C., and aims to springboard from the success Veerhusen and his colleagues at Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay had on Capitol Hill getting congressional support for EPA’s watershed assessment to help prevent the construction of Pebble Mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay.

The Seafood Harvesters of America comprises more than a dozen commercial fishing associations from around the country and seeks to find and call federal attention to common ground for national issues that affect all U.S. commercial fishermen.

Read more at National Fisherman Online

Seafood Harvesters Seeks to Represent Diverse Commercial Fishing Interests

June 19, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

A spokesman for Seafood Harvesters of America, with members from New England and the Gulf of Mexico to Alaska, says the organization hopes to provide a united voice for commercial fishermen on Capitol Hill.

The newly formed group has proclaimed itself as a united voice for “accountable and thriving fisheries.”

According to Brett Veerhusen, a veteran of Alaska’s commercial fisheries, and executive director of Seafood Harvesters, the idea is to bring the small fishermen’s voices to the nation’s capital. “We are providing a mechanism and organization to be telling the stories of American fishermen and how federal law really affects commercial fishermen,” he told Fishermen’s News on June 17.

Read more at Fishermen’s News Online

National US commercial fishermen’s group forms

June 9, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

From seafoodsource.com June 5, 2014

A national U.S. commercial fishermen’s organization has formed, ahead of next week’s Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW).

Fourteen fishing groups, including the Gulf Fishermen’s Association and the American Shark Fisheries Association, have formed Seafood Harvesters of America (SHA) to represent the interests of seafood fishermen. “Through Harvesters, America’s commercial fishermen will be at the table when important decisions are made,” said Chris Brown, president of SHA. “That is key, because in Washington, D.C., if you aren’t at the table, you’re on the menu.”

Read more at Seafood Source

New US fisheries association promises to be active in DC

June 9, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

From www.undercurrentnews.com June 6, 2014

Fourteen US fisheries have organized a new trade association that promises to be involved in the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, in addition to other national policy issues.
The ‘Seafood Harvesters of America’ has appointed commercial fishermen Chris Brown as its president and Brett Veerhusen as its executive director

It also has created a five-member board that includes Brown (Rhode Island Fisherman’s Association), John Schmidt (Gulf Fishermen’s Association), Jack Cox (South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association), Brent Paine (United Catcher Boats) and Mark Gleason (Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers).

Read more at Undercurrent News

U.S. commercial fishing associations create new ‘super group’

June 9, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

From www.intrafish.com, June 6, 2014

Seafood Harvesters of America says it will keep US lawmakers accountable on national fisheries policies.

IntraFish Media
Published: 06.06.2014 10:07

More than a dozen commercial fishing associations from across the country are working together as the only national organization of its kind representing the interests of US fishermen.

The new group, Seafood Harvesters of
America (SHA), are hoping to ensure a
plentiful and lasting industry stretching from
New England, the Gulf of Mexico, and to the Bering Sea in Alaska.

Built on the principal of “accountability,” the group intends to make its voice heard on regulatory issues, budget priorities, conservation goals and the economic potential of America’s fisheries, according to its president Chris Brown.

“Through Harvesters, America’s commercial fishermen will be at the table when important decisions are made,” he said. “That’s key, because in Washington, D.C., if you aren’t at the table, you’re on the menu.”

Next week, Brown, along with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) assistant administrator Eileen Sobeck, and National Geographic fellow and restaurateur Barton Seaver, will serve on a panel during Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) titled “The Future of American Fisheries,” on Thursday, June 12.

“Every fishery in our country, commercial or sport, must demonstrate accountability and transparency in order to continue sustainably harvesting a public resource,” said John Schmidt, who serves as the organization’s vice president.
The new organization’s five-member board includes Brown, of the Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association; John Schmidt, of the Gulf Fishermen’s Association; Jack Cox of the South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association; Brent Paine of the United Catcher Boats Association; and Mark Gleason of the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers.

Gleason, the secretary-treasurer for SHA, said although US fisheries are very diverse and many of its organizations have “critical needs at the regional level,” the group has identified a set of common interests and positions it hopes to communicate to federal policy makers.

Among the issues likely to be discussed at CHOW is the re-authorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), which is the nation’s primary law governing US fisheries. Both chambers of Congress are now circulating draft MSA bills, and one of SHA’s top priorities will be to ensure that the law maintains strict catch limits and does not erode any of the progress commercial fishermen have made with rebuilding fish stocks, according to the group.

Brett Veerhusen, the new executive director of the organization said now, more than ever, it’s vital for these fishery regions to come together as a unified voice.
“Our members strive for strict accountability and science-based decision making to ensure healthy stocks for generations,” he said.

So far, 14 organizations have already thrown their support behind the new group.

Groups join to form national lobbying coalition

June 9, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

Jessican Estapa,  E&E News June 5, 2014

Commercial fishermen from around the country have come together to form the Seafood Harvesters of America, a new national organization designed to represent their interests in the policy arena in Washington, D.C.

Fourteen fishing organizations representing areas ranging from the New England coast to Alaska’s Bering Sea have signed on to the group. The goal is to have their views represented as lawmakers and federal agencies move forward with laws and policy that affect their businesses.

“We really saw a need to work cooperatively on our issues,” said Brett Veerhusen, the group’s executive director.

Seafood Harvesters has been in the works for a couple years, he said. Foundational meetings began last year, resulting in today’s announcement.

At the top of their priority list is having a say in the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. A proposal from House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) was passed by the committee last week, and Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) has floated his own draft.

As legislation moves forward, the group would like to see accountability measures put in place for recreational anglers.

“We strongly believe that Magnuson-Stevens is a policy Americans should be proud of,” he said.

Other priorities will include lobbying for sufficient funding for stock assessments, advancing cost-effective catch-monitoring programs and pushing for more cooperative fisheries management and research.

The associations that have joined the group are: Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, the Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association, the American Shark Fishery Partnership, the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, the Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association, the Fort Bragg Groundfish Association, Georges Bank Cod Fixed Gear Sector Inc., the Gulf Fishermen’s Association, the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, the New Hampshire Groundfish Sectors, the North Pacific Fisheries Association, the Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association, the South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association and United Catcher Boats.

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Commercial harvesters form new organization to advocate for Accountability in US fisheries

June 9, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

From SEAFOODNEWS.COM, June 5, 2014

A new organization uniting some of the most effective regional seafood harvester groups has been formed, called Seafood Harvesters of America.
More than a dozen commercial fishing associations from all different regions of the country are announcing the creation of the only national organization of its kind representing the interests of U.S. fishermen that provide wild seafood to American consumers, ahead of this year’s Capitol Hill Ocean Week.
Leaders from important fisheries in key regions make up the new organization’s five-member board, including Chris Brown (Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association, John Schmidt (Gulf Fishermen’s Association, Jack Cox (South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association), Brent Paine (United Catcher Boats) and Mark Gleason (Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers).
With wide-spread support, from New England and the Gulf of Mexico to the Bering Sea in Alaska, the Seafood Harvesters of America will work to ensure a plentiful and lasting seafood harvest for generations to come.
Harvesters’ mantra is “accountability,” and it intends to make its voice heard on regulatory issues…