Fishing activity at the Bering Sea. (Photo Credit: ASMI)
A new organization boosts cooperative fisheries management
Friday, June 06, 2014, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
The only national organization of its kind representing the interests of US fishermen that provide wild seafood to American consumers has been created by more than a dozen commercial fishing associations from all different regions of the country.
This new organization, bringing together Seafood Harvesters of America and United Catcher Boats, has wide-spread support from New England and the Florida Keys to the Bering Sea in Alaska, including the Fort Bragg Groundfish Association.
“Through the Seafood Harvesters, we can share our lessons-learned with fishermen from around the country, and work with Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to develop regulatory conditions that make success possible for every US fishery,” pointed out Brent Paine of the United Catcher Boats.
The new association, whose president is Chris Brown --the Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association leader – is intended to make its voice heard on regulatory issues, budget priorities, conservation goals and the economic potential of America’s fisheries, among others.
“Through Harvesters, America's commercial fishermen will be at the table when important decisions are made,” Brown stresses.
And he adds: “That's key, because in Washington, D.C., if you aren't at the table, you're on the menu.”
The new organization’s five-member board is made up of leaders from important fisheries in key regions: Brown and Paine serve alongside John Schmidt (Gulf Fishermen’s Association), Mark Gleason (Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers) and Jack Cox (South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association).
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.
“Every fishery in our country, commercial or sport, must demonstrate accountability and transparency in order to continue sustainably harvesting a public resource,” states John Schmidt, who serves as the organization’s vice president.
On 12 June the new association president is to participate alongside National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) assistant administrator Eileen Sobeck and National Geographic fellow and restaurateur Barton Seaver on a Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) panel titled The Future of American Fisheries.
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 US fisheries.
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.
- Legislators fight over adding flexibility to Magnuson-Stevens Act