News

Winter Newsletter

December 19, 2014 - Published in News Releases

As we head into the holiday season, I’d like to thank you for supporting the successful launch of the Seafood Harvesters of America. Over the last several months, we have been a leading voice for accountable and thriving fisheries all across our country.

We have great news to share with you: thousands of seafood harvesters can breathe a sigh of relief because our champions in Congress worked together to avert a dangerous fish cliff of burdensome red-tape and costly fines by extending our existing exemption from vessel discharge permits. Which Congressional members made it happen? – click here for our Winter Newsletter

As we head into the new year, with a new Congress, one of the biggest issues impacting the Harvesters will be the re-authorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. I was fortunate enough to take part in a panel at the Pacific Marine Expo, where we discussed taking the time needed to get it right since the current provisions are already working well. How could this impact you? – click here for our Winter Newsletter

While in Seattle, we also wrapped up our planning session. We especially appreciate Sam Rauch, Deputy Asst. Administrator of NOAA Fisheries (NMFS), coming to discuss important topics like electronic monitoring, data collection and accountability. NOAA’s recent announcement of a new data collection plan for recreational fishermen revealed flaws in the reporting data, which is critical to maintaining accountability. The Harvesters praised NOAA Fisheries in finding solutions. Want to find out? – click here for our Winter Newsletter

We’re also pleased to welcome a new member to the Harvesters. To find out about our new member, check out Seattle photos and get the dates for upcoming events – one more time – click here for our Winter Newsletter.

I’d like to send a special thank you to all of our member organizations and associate members for your time, energy and input this year to the Harvesters.

We wish you and your family a very happy holiday and look forward to an even more exciting new year for all of us who make it our way of life to ensure a lasting supply of American seafood for millions of Americans.

In unity for accountable and thriving fisheries,

Brett Veerhusen
Executive Director

www.SeafoodHarvesters.org

Harvesters Winter Newsletter 12.19.14 photo

 

Fish Cliff Averted: Congress Passes Coast Guard Reauthorization with 3-Year Vessel Discharge Exemption

December 11, 2014 - Published in News Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

December 11, 2014

Fish Cliff Averted: Congress Passes Coast Guard Reauthorization with 3-Year Vessel Discharge Exemption

“Thousands of seafood harvesters will breathe a sigh of relief because our champions in Congress worked together”

Washington, DC – On behalf of the Seafood Harvesters of America, President Chris Brown offered the following statement on the passage of the Coast Guard Reauthorization, which includes a 3 year extension of the moratorium on vessel discharge permitting requirements:

“We’re deeply grateful to everyone who was instrumental in passing a reauthorization that extends the discharge permit for commercial fishing vessels — Senator Begich for sponsoring, Senators Cantwell, Rockefeller, Thune and Rubio for co-sponsoring, as well as Senator Vitter for his push for the 3-year exemption, and all those in the House who played an integral role. We also appreciate the bipartisan leadership of Senators Murkowski and Boxer in pushing for a permanent moratorium. As soon as the President signs this bill into law, thousands of seafood harvesters will breathe a sigh of relief because Congress worked together to avert a dangerous fish cliff of burdensome red-tape and costly fines.

“The 3 year extension of the existing moratorium will save America’s fishermen from being forced to apply for various permits just for spraying off our decks. And we look forward to building on this extension as a first step toward passing a permanent exemption that provides certainty to our nation’s fisheries. Hopefully, this bipartisan effort to put aside the special interests for the greater good of ensuring a plentiful and lasting seafood harvest for tens of millions of consumers, grocers and restaurants will serve as a model for addressing future issues impacting our coastal fishing communities.”

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Background:

 

Seafood Harvesters of America (“The Harvesters”), an umbrella association representing 15 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.

Magnuson-Stevens Bill Fails to Dislodge Poison Pill of Reallocations

December 11, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 11, 2014

Magnuson-Stevens Bill Fails to Dislodge Poison Pill of Reallocations

“We hope that the next Congress won’t make the same mistake of letting this economically destabilizing provision plague the next bill”

Washington, DC – Seafood Harvesters of America President Chris Brown issued the following statement on Thursday regarding the introduction of the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act (S.2991), introduced by Senator Mark Begich:

“The federal law governing our nation’s fisheries is working well, making the U.S. an example to the world for sustainable fishery management. However, we are deeply disappointed to see Senator Begich give in to sports fishing interests by introducing a reauthorization containing a poison pill provision that sets a dangerous precedent for replacing real science-driven accountability with arbitrary political dictates. Forcing the Gulf and South Atlantic Regional Fishery Management Councils to revisit allocations every five years could scare away banks from giving loans to many harvesters in need of upgrading the safety and efficiency of their aging vessels. So we hope that the next Congress won’t make the same mistake of letting this economically destabilizing provision plague the next bill. Congress must ensure American commercial fishermen have every chance to continue providing seafood to millions of American consumers while providing over a million jobs to our economy.”

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Background:

Seafood Harvesters of America (“The Harvesters”), an umbrella association representing 15 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.

Ahead of Senate EPW Meeting, Harvesters Urge Congress to Act on Vessel Discharge Exemption

December 2, 2014 - Published in News Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 2, 2014

Ahead of Senate EPW Meeting, Harvesters Urge Congress to Act on Vessel Discharge Exemption

“Every day wasted means thousands of American seafood harvesters inch closer to the edge of a dangerous fish cliff.”

Washington, DC – With the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works scheduled to hold a Business Meeting this morning on issues that include a bill dealing with vessel discharge permits (S. 2963, introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer), Seafood Harvesters of America President Chris Brown renewed the Harvesters’ call for a solution by the December 18th expiration of the existing moratorium:

“Along with recent legislation introduced by Senators Rubio and Murkowski, the Seafood Harvesters of America appreciate all efforts by Senator Boxer and others to extend the moratorium on the EPA’s vessel discharge permit requirements right away. Now that it’s clear we have such strong bipartisan support for a solution, both sides must work together to get this done – there’s no excuse for further delay.

“Since the clock is ticking, every day wasted means thousands of American seafood harvesters inch closer to the edge of a dangerous fish cliff of burdensome red-tape and costly fines. All recreational vessels are permanently exempt from these requirements, and commercial fishermen are seeking a level playing field. While we remain committed to long-term relief for America’s commercial fishermen, our top priority is for Congress to get a bill, which adequately addresses this issue, to the President’s desk before it’s too late.”

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Background:
U.S. Senate Committee on EPW – Full Committee Business Meeting on vessel discharge
Politico – THE ‘FISH CLIFF’ BILL
The Hill – GOP bill would give EPA’s fishing regulations the hook
Houma Today – Exemption proposed for deck runoff rules

Seafood Harvesters of America (“The Harvesters”), an umbrella association representing 15 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.

Harvesters Salutes NOAA’s New Fishing Data Collection Program

November 14, 2014 - Published in News Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

November 14, 2014

Harvesters Salutes NOAA’s New Fishing Data Collection Program

“Overdue, but necessary shift toward more accurate, efficient stock assessments is critical to sustaining the supply of American-caught seafood for millions”

Washington, DC – Seafood Harvesters of America President Chris Brown and Vice President John Schmidt issues the following statement on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) announcement of a new mail-based method of holding recreational anglers along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts accountable for reporting their catches.

“NOAA’s preliminary findings from an extensive, multi-year pilot project remind us of the trouble we face in assessing the impact that sports fishermen have on our fish stocks, which, in some cases, reveal total effort and catch results that are 2-6 times higher than what was reported. Especially now, as Congress gears up to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act, we must establish accountable management systems that ensure that sports fishermen abide by the same strict annual catch limits that commercial fishermen have adhered to for decades. Knowing how well mail surveys have worked for respected research firms and agencies such as the U.S. Census Bureau, this long overdue, but necessary shift toward more accurate, efficient stock assessments is critical to sustaining the supply of American-caught seafood for millions of American consumers.

“Given that this program will take several more years to be implemented and used for decision-making, Congress should take the time needed to get the Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization right on allocations. Certain reallocation provisions being proposed for the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic regions will set a dangerous precedent for replacing real science-driven accountability with arbitrary political dictates, which turn out to be based on significantly flawed data. If Congress is serious about protecting such an economically-critical part of our coastal communities, they cannot let our precious resources be auctioned off to whatever special interest has the biggest political bankroll.”

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Background:

 Seafood Harvesters of America (“The Harvesters”), an umbrella association representing 15 commercial fishing organizations from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico north to New England. For more information, please visitseafoodharvesters.org or contact (202) 888-6296.

Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association Joins the Harvesters

October 6, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 6, 2014

Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association Joins the Harvesters

Most Urgently Working Together to Extend Moratorium on Discharge Requirements that Could Send Commercial Fishermen Off the ‘Fish Cliff’

Washington, DC – Seafood Harvesters of America President Chris Brown welcomes the coalition’s newest member, the Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association (PSVOA), representing 300 members along the West Coast and throughout Alaska. PSVOA Executive Director Bob Kehoe expressed his excitement about becoming a member with the following statement:

“PSVOA is pleased to join the Harvesters as a united voice of accountability for sustaining American caught seafood for tens of millions of consumers across the country. As we heard during the Senate debate in Kodiak, we are fortunate to have Senator Begich taking action on economically critical commercial fishing issues, most imminently of which is his promise to extend an existing moratorium on incidental discharge requirements expiring on December 18. Working together, with the Harvesters, our priority is to extend this moratorium and save thousands of commercial fishermen from a ‘fish cliff’ of burdensome red-tape and costly fines for the normal operations of their boats.”

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Background:

• Purse Seine Vessel Owners’ Association (PSVOA): About — http://psvoa.com/

• Alaska Dispatch News: Laine Welch: Coastal senators unite on fishing boat discharge permits — http://www.adn.com/article/20140803/laine-welch-coastal-senators-unite-fishing-boat-discharge-permits

• Blank Rome: SMALL VESSEL GENERAL PERMIT GOES INTO EFFECT — http://www.blankrome.com/index.cfm?contentID=37&itemID=3403

Seafood Harvesters of America (“The Harvesters”), an umbrella association representing 15 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 Respond to Rubio’s Legislative Priorities for Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization

September 18, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

Washington, DC – On behalf of the Seafood Harvesters of America, Vice President and Board member John Schmidt (of the Gulf Fishermen’s Association) and Board Member Jack Cox (of the South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association) issued the following joint statement on U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s introduction of the Florida Fisheries Improvement Act, which lays out his legislative priorities for fisheries management in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic:

“While we appreciate Senator Rubio’s support of increased funding for stock assessments, surveys and data collection, the Harvesters will continue championing a final bill that ensures shared accountability for commercial and recreational fishermen to sustain America’s seafood supply.  The Harvesters greatest concern remains a proposal that would force the South Atlantic and Gulf Regional Fishery Management Councils to review allocations based on arbitrary political deadlines.  Reallocating fishery resources to recreational users who do not adhere to the same scientific monitoring and accountability requirements as commercial fishermen, could destabilize commercial fisheries that are economically critical to coastal communities all across the country.  Before rushing a bill through Congress, we should take the time to get it right.”

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Background:

Seafood Harvesters of America (“The 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 Summer 2014 Newsletter

September 9, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

For all the latest news from the Harvesters, check out our Summer Newsletter – click here.

We applaud Congress for taking the first steps toward saving America’s commercial fishermen from a massive fish cliff of burdensome red-tape and costly fines for incidental discharge. But more action is needed to avert a crisis in December. Read more about this and other stories – click here.

Harvester members are active in promoting accountability for sustainable seafood. In our newsletter, we spotlight the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance. They came up with a new brand of wild caught domestic seafood that allows you to track how, when and where your fish comes from. Learn more about Gulf Wild – click here.

We’re also pleased to announce that members of the Harvesters elected our Board of Directors to a full two-year term. And there are some exciting new events coming up. Save the dates – click here.

In unity for thriving fisheries,

Brett Veerhusen
Executive Director

www.SeafoodHarvesters.org

Harvesters Newsletter 9.9.14 Final Image

Seafood Harvesters Oppose Reallocation of Fish Resources

September 2, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

Cordova, Alaska
8/27/14

Seafood Harvesters of America, whose membership includes several Pacific Northwest commercial fishing organizations, is raising concerns over a five-year reallocation mandate included in draft reauthorization of federal fisheries legislation.

Chris Brown, president of the organization, said his members feel “that those who want more access to fishery resources should be responsible for sustaining our fishery stocks.

The proposed mandate in question is included in work underway on reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

The organization’s 14 member commercial fisheries groups include Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association, Fishing Vessel Owners Association, United Catcher Boats and the North Pacific Fisheries Association.

Brown said fishing allocations should be based on thorough scientific analysis, as determined by regional fishery management councils, not arbitrary politics.

“Reallocating these resources to recreational users, who do not adhere to the same accountability and data collection requirements as the commercial fishing industry, would be a step backward in ensuring that America-caught seafood makes its way to millions of American consumers,” he said.

Brown said that Southeast Alaska serves as an excellent example of strong accountability and cooperation between recreational and commercial fishermen.

Read the full story on Fishermen’s News here

Commercial fishermen say water rules would be costly

September 2, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

By Ledyard King, Jackson, Mississippi

8/29/14
Temporary exemptions sparing commercial fishermen from having to comply with a clean water rule that many call onerous and expensive is set to end in December.

WASHINGTON – When commercial fishing vessels unload their hauls on deck, crews usually gut their catch and put it on ice for the trip back to shore.

Then they do something that could land them in trouble under a 6-year-old law: They hose down the decks, sending the bloody mix of guts and scales into the water.

The Clean Boating Act of 2008 requires vessels to test deck-water runoff for contaminants. They also must sample seawater that is circulated into live wells for crabs and lobsters and then discharged back into the ocean, gulf or bay.

At least on paper.

The regulation isn’t enforced because lawmakers have approved temporary exemptions sparing commercial fishermen from having to comply with a rule that many call onerous and expensive. The current exemption ends in December, and the industry is concerned congressional malaise and partisanship could stall legislation to extend it.

That would leave commercial operators on the hook for an expensive and time-consuming sampling regimen that they say could drive them out of business and reduce the fish available at local markets and restaurants.

“Millions of Americans rely on the commercial fishing industry for their access to fresh domestic seafood,” said John Schmidt, a Palm Harbor, Fla., fisherman and board member of the Gulf Fishermen’s Association. “If our process is made impractical, then Americans don’t get seafood.”

In response, Democratic and Republican senators, mostly from coastal states, have sponsored the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act to make the exemption permanent, similar to the one given recreational fishermen several years ago.

Mississippi Republican Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker are among the cosponsors of the bill. It was passed by the Senate Commerce, Space and Technology Committee last month and is now headed to the full Senate for a vote.

Read the full story at the Clarion Leger here