News

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.

 

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
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.

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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 seafoodharvesters.org 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.

 

magnusonstevens_nationalfisherman

Published in the February 2016 edition of National Fisherman.

Seafood Harvesters Praise Senate for Passing Port State Measures Agreement Implementing Legislation

October 23, 2015 - Published in News Releases

Seafood Harvesters Praise Senate for Passing Port State Measures Agreement Implementing Legislation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 23, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Seafood Harvesters of America issued the following statement on the passage of H.R. 774, the “Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015” in the United States Senate:

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Cordova District Fishermen United Joins the Seafood Harvesters of America

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.

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