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Groups join to form national lobbying coalition

June 9, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

Jessican Estapa,  E&E News June 5, 2014

Commercial fishermen from around the country have come together to form the Seafood Harvesters of America, a new national organization designed to represent their interests in the policy arena in Washington, D.C.

Fourteen fishing organizations representing areas ranging from the New England coast to Alaska’s Bering Sea have signed on to the group. The goal is to have their views represented as lawmakers and federal agencies move forward with laws and policy that affect their businesses.

“We really saw a need to work cooperatively on our issues,” said Brett Veerhusen, the group’s executive director.

Seafood Harvesters has been in the works for a couple years, he said. Foundational meetings began last year, resulting in today’s announcement.

At the top of their priority list is having a say in the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. A proposal from House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) was passed by the committee last week, and Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) has floated his own draft.

As legislation moves forward, the group would like to see accountability measures put in place for recreational anglers.

“We strongly believe that Magnuson-Stevens is a policy Americans should be proud of,” he said.

Other priorities will include lobbying for sufficient funding for stock assessments, advancing cost-effective catch-monitoring programs and pushing for more cooperative fisheries management and research.

The associations that have joined the group are: Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, the Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association, the American Shark Fishery Partnership, the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, the Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association, the Fort Bragg Groundfish Association, Georges Bank Cod Fixed Gear Sector Inc., the Gulf Fishermen’s Association, the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, the New Hampshire Groundfish Sectors, the North Pacific Fisheries Association, the Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association, the South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association and United Catcher Boats.

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Commercial harvesters form new organization to advocate for Accountability in US fisheries

June 9, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

From SEAFOODNEWS.COM, June 5, 2014

A new organization uniting some of the most effective regional seafood harvester groups has been formed, called Seafood Harvesters of America.
More than a dozen commercial fishing associations from all different regions of the country are announcing the creation of the only national organization of its kind representing the interests of U.S. fishermen that provide wild seafood to American consumers, ahead of this year’s Capitol Hill Ocean Week.
Leaders from important fisheries in key regions make up the new organization’s five-member board, including Chris Brown (Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association, John Schmidt (Gulf Fishermen’s Association, Jack Cox (South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association), Brent Paine (United Catcher Boats) and Mark Gleason (Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers).
With wide-spread support, from New England and the Gulf of Mexico to the Bering Sea in Alaska, the Seafood Harvesters of America will work to ensure a plentiful and lasting seafood harvest for generations to come.
Harvesters’ mantra is “accountability,” and it intends to make its voice heard on regulatory issues…

New fisheries association to be active in Magnuson-Steven reauthorization

June 5, 2014 - Published in News Clippings

Politico – June 5, 2014

Fourteen fisheries have organized a new trade association that promises to be involved in the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act in addition to other national policy issues.

The Seafood Harvesters of America has appointed Chris Brown as its president and Brett Veerhusen as its executive director. Both are commercial fishermen. It also has created a five-member board that includes Brown (Rhode Island Fisherman’s Association), John Schmidt (Gulf Fishermen’s Association), Jack Cox (South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association), Brent Paine (United Catcher Boats) and Mark Gleason (Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers).

The group says it plans to participate alongside National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Assistant Administrator Eileen Sobeck on a Capitol Hill Ocean Week panel, June 12, that is expected to discuss MSA. “Both chambers of Congress are now circulating draft MSA bills, and one of the Harvesters’ top priorities will be to ensure that the law maintains strict catch limits and does not erode any of the progress commercial fishermen have made with rebuilding fish stocks,” SHA notes in a press release.

“Through Harvesters, America’s commercial fishermen will be at the table when important decisions are made,” Brown says. “That’s key, because in Washington, D.C., if you aren’t at the table, you’re on the menu.”

The group notes that, in 2012, U.S. commercial fishermen caught 9.6 billion pounds of fish, adding nearly 1.3 million direct and indirect jobs to our nation’s economy.

— Jason Huffman

Commercial Fishing Organizations Across Country Unite to Sustain Economically-Critical Industry

June 5, 2014 - Published in News Releases and Advocacy

Seafood Harvesters of America Offers Voice of Accountability on Reauthorization of Magnuson-Stevens Act, Other National Policy Issues

Washington, DC – Ahead of this year’s Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW), more than a dozen commercial fishing associations from all different regions of the country are announcing the creation of the only national organization of its kind representing the interests of U.S. fishermen that provide wild seafood to American consumers.

With wide-spread support, from New England and the Florida Keys to the Bering Sea in Alaska, the Seafood Harvesters of America will work to ensure a plentiful and lasting seafood harvest for generations to come.

Harvesters’ mantra is “accountability,” and it intends to make its voice heard on regulatory issues, budget priorities, conservation goals and the economic potential of America’s fisheries, among others.

So far, 14 organizations have already thrown their support behind Seafood Harvesters of America. The diversity of Harvesters’ members reflects the complexity of federal fisheries, as well as the enormous contribution of the commercial industry to America’s coastal communities.

Heading up Seafood Harvesters of America as its president is Chris Brown, who also leads the Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association. Brown is well-known both as a commercial fisherman and as an advocate for U.S. fisheries.

“Through Harvesters, America’s commercial fishermen will be at the table when important decisions are made,” he says. “That’s key, because in Washington, D.C., if you aren’t at the table, you’re on the menu.”

Brown will participate alongside National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) assistant administrator Eileen Sobeck and National Geographic fellow and restaurateur Barton Seaver on a CHOW panel titled “The Future of American Fisheries,” on Thursday, June 12.

The new organization’s five-member board also includes leaders from important fisheries in key regions. Joining Brown are Jack Cox (South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association), John Schmidt (Gulf Fishermen’s Association), Brent Paine (United Catcher Boats) and Mark Gleason (Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers).

Gleason, the secretary-treasurer for the Harvesters, adds that, “although our fisheries are very diverse and many of our organizations have critical needs at the regional level, we’ve been able to identify a set of common interests and positions that we now hope to communicate to federal policy makers.”

Critical to the healthy diets of millions of Americans, seafood production is the economic backbone of communities along our nation’s coasts. In 2012, U.S. commercial fishermen caught 9.6 billion pounds of fish, adding nearly 1.3 million direct and indirect jobs to our nation’s economy.

“Every fishery in our country, commercial or sport, must demonstrate accountability and transparency in order to continue sustainably harvesting a public resource,” says John Schmidt, who serves as the organization’s vice president.

Among the issues likely to be discussed at CHOW is the re-authorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), which is the nation’s primary law governing U.S. fisheries.  Both chambers of Congress are now circulating draft MSA bills, and one of the Harvesters’ top priorities will be to ensure that the law maintains strict catch limits and does not erode any of the progress commercial fishermen have made with rebuilding fish stocks.

“Our members strive for strict accountability and science-based decision making to ensure healthy stocks for generations,” adds Brett Veerhusen, the new executive director of the Seafood Harvesters of America.

In addition to the Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization, the Seafood Harvesters of America will work to:

  • Ensure sufficient funding for well-designed stock assessments
  • Promote accountability in commercial and recreational fisheries management
  • Advance cost-effective catch-monitoring programs
  • Advocate for an increased role in cooperative fisheries management and cooperative research

 

A full listing of the group’s initial membership can be found at seafoodharvesters.org.

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