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:
October 20, 2015 - Published in News Clippings
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: (650) 646-5108
DATE: October 21, 2015
Commercial & Charter Fishermen Send Opposition Letter to Congress Ahead of Red Snapper Hearing
Seafood Harvesters of America Join Commercial and Charter Fishermen in Opposition to the Red Snapper Management Authority Act
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.
September 10, 2015 - Published in News Clippings
The Seafood Harvesters of America wish to extend our deepest condolences to the family of John Schmidt, who suddenly passed away on Monday. A devoted family man and a life-long commercial fisherman, John served our organization as Vice President, and as a Board member of the Gulf Fishermen’s Association. John was a founding member of the Harvesters, and was involved with the establishment of the organization.
Years ago, John turned his passion for fishing into a successful career – leading a thirteen-crew fishing business that catches grouper and red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. For John, fishing was more than a job. He had a strong passion to provide Americans with genuine, sustainable American seafood.
John’s role at the Harvesters allowed him to speak on behalf of commercial fishermen on issues such as accountability, stewardship, cooperation and the importance of maintaining access to the 97% of Americans who rely on commercial fishermen for their seafood. He was, undoubtedly, a dedicated and tireless voice for our organization. Today, we offer our thoughts, prayers, and enduring gratitude to everyone who knew and loved him.
His obituary can be found here: http://www.obitsforlife.com/obituary/1162702/Schmidt-John.php
September 1, 2015 - Published in News Clippings
Ahead of President Obama’s three-day trip to Alaska, Executive Director, Brett Veerhusen, sent a letter to the Administration on behalf of the Harvesters. Brett commended the President for sitting down with commercial fishermen during the trip, and urged Mr. Obama to address the important issues affecting commercial fishermen around the country. You can view the letter here.
August 31, 2015
The Honorable Barack Obama
The United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20006
Dear Mr. President,
The Seafood Harvesters of America (the Harvesters) represents 17 commercial fishing organizations from Alaska, to the Gulf of Mexico and New England. As its Executive Director, a life-long Alaskan fisherman, Bristol Bay fisherman, and the son of a man who has fished for 45 years in Alaskan waters, I welcome you to this great state.
The Harvesters applauds you for choosing to sit down with real, everyday Alaskan commercial fishermen who nobly harvest an American public resource. We urge you to take this opportunity to speak to the issues of importance that are essential to the livelihoods of commercial fishermen in Alaska and the nation.
We are writing to ask that you use your trip to Alaska, and your meeting with commercial fishermen in Bristol Bay, to send a strong message about how the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) is working for this nation. Alaskans have demonstrated the audacity to succeed in the presence of all the uncertainties associated with climate change. We do so as an industry shielded by a strong MSA, which guides a public, science-based decision-making process.
The Harvesters agree with your Administration that the MSA reauthorization needs minimal changes. While we are amenable to some minor changes, we are calling on lawmakers and your Administration to keep the MSA largely intact. Mr. President, one of our biggest concerns is legislative attempts to allow individual states to takeover species management in federal waters, which would set a dangerous precedent that could unravel the responsible management of America’s fisheries. Thank you for your tireless support of this time – and climate – tested document. U.S. fishery management is a beacon of prosperity within global fisheries.
The global economic environment that our products compete in is now protected through the establishment of your Task Force to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. By importing seafood, the U.S. imports the ethics and ethos of the country of origin’s fishing practices. As a world leader in sustainable fishery management, American consumers demand our imported seafood to be of the same ethics and ethos that American fishermen harvest. We commend the Task Force for recognizing sustainable fisheries as an enormous benefit to ocean stakeholders.
Additionally, we ask that the Seafood Harvesters of America have a seat at the table in future discussions regarding marine monuments and protected areas. It is critically important that these initiatives are locally driven and focus on best available science rather than politics. We look forward to working with your Administration to ensure that we protect our delicate ocean resources and our American fishing economy into the future.
Millions of people – grocery patrons, restaurant owners, and consumers nationwide – rely on commercial fisheries to help get their dinner from ocean to plate. In 2012 alone, Americans consumed 4.5 billion pounds of seafood, which added 1.3 million direct and indirect jobs to our nation’s economy. Seafood Harvesters of America is the voice for our country’s 190-foot trawlers as well as the 30-foot hook and line fishermen and are working hard to ensure the food security of our great nation remains sustainable and thriving.
With the support of your Administration and policy makers in Washington D.C., salmon, crab, pollock and snapper – to name just a few – will remain part of a complete American dinner.
Seafood Harvesters of America
July 28, 2015 - Published in News Releases
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 28, 2015
Seafood Harvesters Applaud House for Passing Port State Measures Agreement Implementing Legislation
Washington, DC – On behalf of the Seafood Harvesters of America, Executive Director Brett Veerhusen issued the following statement on the passage of H.R. 774, the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015 (IUU).
“We are pleased to see the United States House of Representatives move expeditiously to pass this important legislation,” stated Brett Veerhusen, Executive Director of the Seafood Harvesters of America. “We especially thank Representatives Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU) and Don Young (R-AK) for their bipartisan leadership. Passing implementing legislation for the Port State Measures Agreement is an important step to protect our domestic commercial fisheries. Strengthening the enforcement power of international fishery agreements already in existence is vital to protect lawful fishing practices. It levels the playing field for our nation’s fishermen when competing in domestic and international fishing markets. We commend the House’s action on this common sense bill, and hope the Senate will follow suit and pass similar IUU legislation,” concluded Veerhusen.
Seafood Harvesters of America (“Harvesters”) is an umbrella association representing 16 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.
July 19, 2015 - Published in News Clippings
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2015
STATE CONTROL OF RED SNAPPER NOTHING MORE THAN A RACE TO THE BOTTOM
Magnuson-Stevens Works, Rep. Graves’ Bill Unnecessary
(Washington, DC) Seafood Harvesters of America, Executive Director Brett Veerhusen issued the following statement today in response to introduction of the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority Act:
The Seafood Harvesters of America vehemently oppose this bill. Their proposal for state control of red snapper would hurt small commercial fishing businesses and restaurants throughout the Gulf who locally source delicious, sustainable American seafood to millions of restaurant patrons.
Representative Graves’ bill would effectively undo the successes of America’s law governing our federal fisheries – the Magnuson-Stevens Act – a landmark piece of legislation Americans should be proud of.
The benefits of this bill, none. The repercussions of this bill, many. This bill would threaten the availability of red snapper to local fishermen and restaurants across the country, which will most likely result in even more unsustainable overfishing by private anglers. It would also set a dangerous precedent of giving states the right to undermine federal fishery management requirements when private anglers do not agree with those requirements and putting in place a system where states would have little incentive to be stricter than their neighbor – creating a “race to the bottom” effect. Moreover, Graves’ bill would allow recreational fishermen to simply opt out of fishing rules set by the federal government, with impunity.
Commercially, red snapper is caught predominantly by small, family-owned fishing businesses in the Gulf of Mexico. Without these fishermen, red snapper would not be available in your local grocery’s fish case or on your favorite menu.
It is clear that Rep. Graves bill is intended to drive hardworking fishermen out of business and keep delicious domestic red snapper off the plates of American diners and consumers. This spring, he attempted to amend a bill with identical language, which failed. Now, he’s going at it again. Try as he may, Rep. Graves’ form of “venue-shopping”, in dissent with current Federal management of fisheries, can result in grave implications nationwide. We strongly urge all members of Congress to stand with the hardworking men and women that are Commercial Fishermen and send this bill to the bottom of the Gulf.
Seafood Harvesters of America (“The Harvesters”), an umbrella association representing 16 commercial fishing organizations from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico north to New England. For more information, please visit seafoodharvesters.org.
June 23, 2015 - Published in News Clippings
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [SeafoodNews] June 23, 2015
The Seafood Harvesters of America, a group that represents commercial fishing associations across the country, has endorsed the passage of a law that would amend a section of federal fishing-industry safety laws that was originally passed in the 2010 Coast Guard Reauthorization Act.
Support for S. 1611 stems from the commercial industry’s push to reduce costs to build new fishing vessels. Currently Section 4503(c) of the Coast Guard Act commercials vessels at least 50 feet in length must fit standards of a certain class society that the industry says runs-up construction and maintenance costs considerably.
According to the Harvesters, the provision prevents commercial fishermen from building modern, larger fishing vessels to replace aging boats. This counters solving the safety issues the Coast Guard Act set out to accomplish according to the Harvesters.
Following is the Harvesters’ full letter addressed to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation:
Dear Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson:
Seafood Harvesters of America is a broadly based organization representing 16 commercial fishing organizations from George’s Bank to the Bering Sea and from California to the Florida Keys. We fish for many different species, utilizing a host of gear types, aboard vessels specific to our respective fisheries. Our organization reflects the diversity of America’s coastal communities, the complexity of our marine environments and the enormous potential of our commercial fisheries. We write today to offer our support for S. 1611. Specifically, we wish to voice our support for the provision that would amend Section 4503(c) of Title 46 of the United States Code. This provision would increase the length overall requirement for a newly built commercial fishing vessel to be classed from the current 50’ length overall to 190’ length overall. We strongly support this provision and encourage the Committee to retain it as drafted during consideration of S. 1611 at the upcoming Executive Session.
After several very high profile commercial fishing vessel losses and commensurate loss of life in the early to mid 2000’s it became clear that Congress needed to act to rectify many of the shortcomings with respect to safety regulations for commercial fishing vessels. As part of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-281) Congress did just that with the passage of many new safety provisions. These included new requirements for survival craft, mandatory safety training and the requirement for periodic “refresher” courses, increased record keeping regarding maintenance and safety instruction and drills, mandatory dockside examinations, the establishment of a Fishing Safety Training Grants program to facilitate the aforementioned safety training, establishment of a Fishing Safety Research Grant program, and extension of the U.S. Coast Guard Commercial Fishing Safety Advisory Committee (CFSAC). Although there was some limited opposition to these new provisions at the time, the commercial fishing industry has come to embrace these requirements as necessary to increase safety of our fleets.
Unfortunately however, there was one provision in the 2010 Act, that while its intent was to increase safety for commercial fishing vessels, the actual consequence of this provision has been to create a perverse incentive towards less safety for the fleet. Included in the 2010 Act was a requirement that commercial fishing vessels at least 50 feet overall in length, built after July 1, 2012 and that operate beyond 3 nautical miles, must be designed, constructed, and maintained to the standards of a recognized classification society (“classed”). The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-213) changed the effective date for the classification requirement to July 1, 2013.
While we support increased safety for commercial fishing fleets, forcing newly built vessels to be classed is not the way to get there. What this requirement will do is to add significant cost to the construction of a new commercial fishing vessel. The best estimates available point to an increased up-front cost of roughly 20% for new vessel construction if it must be classed. However, those additional costs will compound over time, as the vessel is required to remain “in class” as long as it is operational. For example, if a vessel breaks down in a remote Alaskan port and needs a structural repair, the vessel owner must not only repair the structural deficiency, he must also fly a classification society inspector up from Seattle to monitor the repair, incurring costs for both wages and travel expenses. Making this problem even more acute is the fact that there is already a shortage of classification society inspectors, so the vessel owner may have to wait quite some time for an inspector to become available. All vessel owners expect to have lost fishing time due to breakdowns over the life of their vessel, but this is unreasonable to say the least.
Quite frankly, when many vessel owners around the country are considering whether or not to replace their aging vessels, the 20% increased up-front cost as well as the longer-term costs of keeping the vessel “in class” will be the tipping point that necessitates they simply keep the aging vessel in service rather than replace it. Alternatively, vessel owners will build vessels smaller than they would have otherwise in order to avoid the classification requirement. The recent launch of a 49.9’ purse seine vessel at the Little Hoquiam Shipyard in Washington State is the first of what may become a trend in new vessel construction if the proposed amendment to Section 4503(c) of Title 46, United States Code is not adopted.
The U.S. Coast Guard Commercial Fishing Safety Advisory Committee (CFSAC) agrees that classification for newly built commercial fishing vessel is unnecessary. For the past several years the Committee has advised the Coast Guard that vessels built after the effective date should “adhere to classification and load line design construction standards but not require classification certification. ” The Committee further notes that “along with mandatory compliance programs” the requirement to be built to and maintain class standards but not society certification would “offer adequate safety standards without burdening our commercial fishing fleets with the unnecessary expense of full classification certification. ” The Committee feels that risk-based alternative compliance programs developed with significant input from individual fishing fleets will prove a far better enhancement of fishing vessel safety than classification. We support this conclusion as well and we believe that amending Section 4503(c) of Title 46 of the United States Code will allow U.S. commercial fishermen to replace their vessels when that becomes necessary rather than find themselves in a situation where economics dictate that harvesters must continue to operate an aging vessel past its useful service life, which would clearly be an impediment to safety.
In conclusion, U.S. commercial fishermen are, without question, the biggest advocates for increased safety for our fleets. Often our children and relatives are aboard our vessels. Our friends and neighbors are often commercial fishermen. And we ourselves have a considerable amount at stake given that we are aboard our vessels. But we do not support regulations that simply add cost while not actually increasing safety. It is hard to understand the logic behind maintaining a statutory requirement that was originally intended to increase fishing vessel safety but has actually resulted in a perverse incentive towards reduced safety. That is why we call on the US Senate to immediately adopt the proposed amendment to Section 4503(c) of Title 46, United States Code. We thank you for consideration of our comments and look forward to working with the Committee to find a commonsense approach to commercial fishing vessel safety.
Seafood Harvesters of America Board of Directors:
Christopher Brown, Sr. – President
Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association
John Schmidt – Vice-President
Gulf Fishermen’s Association
Mark Gleason – Secretary/Treasurer
Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers
Jack Cox – Board Member
South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association
Brent Paine – Board Member
United Catcher Boats
June 10, 2015 - Published in News Clippings
Today, we release our summer newsletter found here. It’s a great overview of some of the spring’s most relevant events, and an update on the Harvesters’ activities this season. This edition gives a great shout out to two recent additions to our organization: The Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, and The Midwater Trawlers Cooperative. We also discuss our National Outreach Days in Washington, D.C. when over 30 fishermen convened in our nation’s capital to accountable fishery management.
June 2, 2015 - Published in News Clippings
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: (202) 455-0286
DATE: June 1, 2015
Seafood Harvesters Respond to House Reauthorization of Magnuson-Stevens Act
Magnuson is working, significant changes unnecessary
On behalf of the Seafood Harvesters of America, Executive Director Brett Veerhusen issued the following statement on the House of Representative’s passage to reauthorize and amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act:
“We greatly appreciate the strong champions of commercial fishermen in the House of Representatives, including Congressman Young. As we have continuously stated, it is imperative that the Magnuson-Stevens Act remains largely intact because it is a remarkably successful public policy that has restored the health and long-term viability of America’s fisheries. Overall, the Magnuson-Stevens Act is working and significant reforms are unnecessary.
“We continue to be deeply concerned about provisions in the bill, including those that would force the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Regional Fishery Management Councils to review allocations based on arbitrary political deadlines. These requirements would create the prospect of perpetual review and economic uncertainty for commercial fishermen, reward unaccountability and overfishing, and deprive millions of Americans of access to American seafood.
“Seafood Harvesters of America’s members strive to improve and maintain accountability in our fisheries. The Magnuson-Stevens Act sets strict Annual Catch Limits and rebuilding timelines, which have been essential to preventing overfishing. Catch shares are a proven tool in supporting accountability and the current law provides regional fishery management councils sufficient authority to implement them where they make sense.
“We understand Congress’ desire to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act, but if the House bill is going to be enacted, the Harvesters believe that the bill will first require significant changes. The Magnuson-Stevens Act has proven, in its current form, to be sufficient in its ability to ensure America’s fisheries are harvested sustainably and responsibly.”
Seafood Harvesters of America (“The Harvesters”), an umbrella association representing 16 commercial fishing organizations from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico north to New England. For more information, please visit seafoodharvesters.org or contact (202) 455-0286.