Harvesters’ President Among White House Honorees

October 4, 2016 - Published in News Releases


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


  • 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


  • 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:

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 or (202) 888-2733.

Thank you for your cooperation with this request.


Chris Brown signature file

Christopher Brown


[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.


Op-Ed: Red Snapper Limits Help Louisiana’s Restaurants and Economy

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.”

Read the full op-ed here.


Seafood Harvesters Respond to Congress Passing The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015

February 2, 2016 - Published in News Releases

Seafood Harvesters Respond to Congress Passing The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015
More certainty needed for larger vessels, alternative compliance program

February 2, 2016

Washington, DC – The Seafood Harvesters of America issued the following statement after the House and Senate unanimously passed H.R. 4188, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015.

The Seafood Harvesters of America commends the Senate and House for passing H.R. 4188, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015. We are pleased that Congress recognizes that the 2010 Coast Guard Authorization Act requirements impose significant costs for vessels measuring 50-190 feet in length. The 2015 bill attempts to address some of these burdensome costs for new vessels up to 79 feet in length by allowing these vessels to join the prescribed alternative safety compliance program, rather than be built and maintained to class. However, the Harvesters remain concerned about the effectiveness, added costs and timeline for implementation for the alternative safety compliance program to new and existing vessels.

By attempting to measure vessel classification costs for larger fishing vessels 80-190 feet through a study conducted by the Government Accountability Office, the Harvesters hope Congress obtains the results it needs within one year to demonstrate that classification requirements impose significant burdens without increasing the safety of larger vessels within the commercial fishing industry.

We are disappointed that H.R. 4188 did not extend an existing permanent discharge exemption granted for recreational vessels to commercial fishing vessels so the industry can continue to have certainty in our fishing businesses. The Harvesters look forward to working with Congress to protect not only the aquatic environment, but also the commercial fishing industry throughout the United States that depends on clean water for its livelihood.

Small, family owned businesses are the hallmark of commercial fishing. These hard working fishermen now have some reassurances they need to continue to provide for their families while keeping them safe. However, more work needs to be done in order to develop solutions for our larger vessels, the alternative safety compliance program and a permanent solution to vessel incidental discharges.


Seafood Harvesters of America (“Harvesters”) is an umbrella association representing 17 commercial fishing organizations from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico north to New England. For more information, please visit or contact (314) 276-1062.

Stand with the Magnuson-Stevens Act

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.



Published in the February 2016 edition of National Fisherman.

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