North Pacific Fisheries Management Council: Oct 2-11

 Photo Credit: Fish Watch

Photo Credit: Fish Watch

The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council Meets for the 236th Plenary Session October 2nd through October 11th in Anchorage.  In a nutshell, some of the main issues thought to be important to the Deep Sea Fishermen’s Union relate to Observers and Abundance Based Management (ABM). 

Regarding the Observer matter, it is our sense that Washington State, under the leadership of Councilmember Bill Tweidt, will move to fix address serious and lingering salmon and groundfish tendering issues. Last week, the OAC recommended, with consensus, to have Pollock and Salmon sampled whether landed shoreside or by a tendered. The OAC also recommend looking at a definition for catcher vessels delivering to tenders to be subject to logging into the observer program after each delivery or to analyze after a certain level of deliveries were made. We remain hopeful that the Council will follow the lead of the OAC.
On the ABM front, we continue to push for workable options to be developed at the October Council meeting. We remain concerned that the Council’s current range of 50% over the current Cap and 50% under actually puts 2/3 of the potential options at levels greater than what is occurring now and this is wholly unacceptable. 

James J. Johnson
Executive Director
Deep Sea Fishermen’s Union of the Pacific

Alaska moves to expand permit access for young fishermen

Submitted by Jan Standaert

Written by Laine Welch April 24, 2017

Numerous studies over the past decade have highlighted Alaska’s “graying of the fleet” (the average age of permit holders is 50), and the lack of opportunities for younger people to launch a career in commercial fishing.

State data show that between 1975 and 2014, more than 2,300 limited entry permits (nearly 28 percent) migrated away from Alaska’s rural fishing communities to non-residents.

A new measure gaining steam in the Alaska legislature aims to reverse that trend by creating fisheries trusts in which communities could buy permits and lease them to fishermen who otherwise could not afford them.

“It’s good to recognize the problem, but it’s even better to try and do something about it,” said Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka) sponsor of the legislation (HB 188).

Under the plan, regional trusts could buy or be gifted a maximum of 2.5 percent of the permits in any given fishery, and lease them for up to six years to fishermen who want to make the transition from deckhand to permit owners. The fishermen must then buy their own permits if they choose to continue in a fishery. The trusts would apply to all limited entry fisheries in Alaska.

At the outset, the trusts would be authorized in up to three Alaska regions that choose to opt in, and must be approved by two-thirds of any municipality. Board members would be recommended by cities and boroughs in each region and appointed by the governor. Unincorporated communities may also be included on the board.

“Just as people often rent before buying a house, fisheries trusts offer an opportunity to run a boat and gain experience before making the six-figure decision to finance a permit and become an independent small business owner,” Kreiss-Tomkins said.

Interested stakeholders, which include Alaska Native groups, state agencies and fishing organizations from Southeast to Nome, have spent more than two and a half years developing the idea.

“We are continuing to craft and refine the model in terms of legality and policy,” Kreiss-Tomkins said, adding that the level of interest is very region specific.

“Some are very bullish about the opportunity, some are not. That’s totally fine,” he said. “We expect some will watch and see how it goes, and then make a decision once they have more information.”

The measure is scheduled for hearings during the current extended legislative session although it is not expected to be put to a vote.

“We are taking it slow and steady,” Kreiss-Tomkins said. “In the interim, we are hoping to grow the conversation with fishing communities, economic development advocates and other stakeholders who would benefit from this tool in their tool box. Then we will be ready to revisit it next year.”

Young Unveils Young Fishermen's Development Act

Washington, D.C.  –  Alaska Congressman Don Young, a longtime leader in national fisheries policy and legislation, this week unveiled his newest bill –  H.R. 2079, the Young Fishermen’s Development Act to address the longtime decline in younger Americans entering the commercial fishing fleet  – or “graying of the fleet.” Young’s legislation would create the first ever national grant program through the Department of Commerce to support training, education, and workplace development for the nation’s next generation of commercial fishermen.

“This innovative new program is only one effort to preserve fishing heritage and encourage new participation in the industry,” said Congressman Don Young. “Young commercial fishermen are facing bigger challenges than ever before – new barriers to entry, limited training opportunities and a lack of support. This legislation is about supporting the livelihoods of fishing communities in Alaska and across the nation. I’m proud to stand with our young fishermen by introducing this important piece of legislation.”

Congressman Young introduced H.R. 2079 with Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) to create a completive grant program – modeled closely after the successful Department of Agriculture’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program – to provide meaningful resources for younger generations of Americans entering and progressing in the fishing industry.

“The fishing industry is vital to the Sixth District and to our entire region, but we’re at a crossroads,” said Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA). This legislation will help to sustain the fishing industry by ensuring that our young people not only have a future in fishing, but are also empowered with the training and resources necessary to thrive in the 21st-century economy. I’m grateful to Congressman Young for his collaboration on this bill and broader efforts to support our young fishermen.”

The legislation would authorize up to $200,000 in competitive grants through NOAA’s Sea Grant Program to support new and established local and regional training, education, outreach, and technical assistance initiatives for young fishermen. These programs, workshops and service include: seamanship, navigation, electronics, and safety; vessel and engine care, maintenance, and repair; innovative conservation fishing gear engineering and technology; entrepreneurship and good business practices; direct marketing, supply chain, and traceability; financial and risk management, including vessel, permit, and quota purchasing.

Fishermen’s Association. “Empowering the next generation of young fishermen is essential to economic opportunity, food security and our way of life.”

“Representatives Moulton and Young understand that the success of young fishermen is vital to the survival of fishing communities in New England and across the country,” said John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “We look forward to working with them on this important effort to ensure the next generation of commercial fishermen are on the water and ready to sustainably harvest America’s seafood.”