News

Red Snapper Scheme Could Destroy Fishery

April 1, 2015 - Published in News Clippings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

CONTACT: (314) 276-1062
DATE: April 1, 2015

Red Snapper Scheme Could Destroy Fishery

Proposal puts consumers, jobs and the health of America’s fisheries at risk

Seafood Harvesters of America President Chris Brown issued the following statement regarding an outline put forward by the fish and wildlife managers from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida that would allow for a state takeover of federal waters. The scheme will open the door to devastating overfishing and set a dangerous precedent that could unravel the responsible management of America’s fisheries under the landmark Magnuson-Stevens Act:

“If this scheme becomes law, it could soon become difficult or impossible to legally buy American Red Snapper. Retailers, restaurants and grocery stores will be simply unable to provide consumers with the genuine American Red Snapper that is increasingly popular across the country.

“Casting aside the Magnuson-Stevens Act in favor of this proposal would upend almost a decade of progress in restoring the American Red Snapper – declaring a virtual free for all on the fragile fishery in the Gulf of Mexico that now supplies more than 99% of American Red Snapper. The state bureaucrats propose to take over management of the fishery in federal waters. The territory will be divided amongst five states, and will not require compliance with existing legal standards within the Magnuson-Stevens Act to prevent overfishing and rebuild the fishery. If any state is lax in enforcing quotas on commercial or recreational harvests, the other states will have little incentive to be stricter than their neighboring state – creating a ‘race to the bottom’ effect. The result will be dramatic, unsustainable overfishing by recreational fishermen. This is simply reckless and insatiable greed that in no way serves the best interest of this nation.

“Indeed the stated purpose of the proposal is to increase the proportion of American Red Snapper that will be allocated to recreational fishermen who have far less scrutiny and accountability of their catches than commercial fishermen. While most of these individuals are responsible sportsmen, the lack of real-time catch reporting and a catch management system such as tags for private anglers places an enormous strain on the fishery.

“Since 2007, commercial fishermen have lived within their allotted quota each and every year. But recreational fishermen have exceeded their quota in six of the last eight years. Excluding last year and the year of the BP oil spill – when fishing was not allowed for many months – recreational fishermen have surpassed their quota by an average of 84%. A plan designed to take quota from the commercial sector and increase the recreational quota even further will likely open the door to more unsustainable overfishing. Recreational fishermen should focus on creating an accountable fishery for themselves, rather than using politics to reallocate access to American Red Snapper.

“Not only will the proposal harm American consumers it also could mean financial ruin for thousands of hardworking small businesses who make their living through responsible, sustainable harvest of this highly sought after fish.

“Finally, the scheme represents an unprecedented departure from the responsible federal management process that has existed for decades under the landmark Magnuson-Stevens Act and has helped restore fisheries around the nation. Through a public process, the Gulf Fishery Management Council has worked to help rebuild the Red Snapper fishery, more than doubling the quota from 2008 to 2014. Commercial fishermen from the Gulf of Alaska, to the Gulf of Maine, and south to the Gulf of Mexico have expressed deep concerns that abandoning the council system could set a dangerous precedent for unraveling fishery protections around the country – costing them a way of life and endangering the future of wild caught, sustainably harvested American seafood.”

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Seafood Harvesters of America member organizations:

Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers – Seattle, WA
Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association – Kodiak, AK
Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance – Chatham, MA
Fishing Vessel Owners Association – Seattle, WA
Fort Bragg Groundfish Association – Fort Bragg, CA
George’s Bank Cod Fixed Gear Sector – Chatham, MA
Gulf Fishermen’s Association – Clearwater, FL
Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance – Galveston, TX
Midwater Trawlers Cooperative – Newport, OR
New Hampshire Groundfish Sectors – Portsmouth, NH
North Pacific Fisheries Association – Homer, AK
Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association – Seattle, WA
Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association – Wakefield, RI
South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association – Charleston, SC
United Catcher Boats – Seattle, WA

Thank you Senator Murkowski

March 11, 2015 - Published in News Clippings

While many members in both parties played a crucial role in averting the vessel discharge regulations last year, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski – the new chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee – was absolutely instrumental. Here’s the advertisement we took out in the March issue of Pacific Fishing to show our appreciation and encourage her continued support.

pacific-fishing-december-MURKOWSKI AD

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.