Bill provides training, grants for young fishermen in US

Published on
June 13, 2017

Several United States legislators introduced a bill that aims to reduce obstacles preventing young people from entering the commercial fishing industry.

The Young Fishermen’s Development Act (S.1323), would provide USD 2 million (EUR 1.8 million) annually for six years, to train and provide grants to the next generation of commercial fishermen. Bipartisan sponsors include Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Lisa Murkowski (R-Arkansas), Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), and Maria Cantwell (D-Washington).

“Fishing employs more Alaskans than any other industry in the state, but high barriers and costs remain for newer generations attempting to fill the ranks of this vital sector of our economy,” said Sullivan in a Fishing Communities Coalition statement. “This legislation will coalesce regional efforts to lower these barriers through new grants, training opportunities and an apprenticeship program that will help harness the experience of seasoned fishermen.”

The training programs included in the bill will “help young men and women be able to push off the dock into new careers and make vital economic contributions to their communities,” Markey said. 

Currently, there is no single federal program dedicated to training, educating and assisting the next generation of commercial fishermen, according to the FCC. “But the need is very real – daunting challenges, including high cost of entry, financial risks and limited entry-level opportunities have made it harder than ever for young men and women to start a career in commercial fishing,” the organization said on a website devoted to the legislation.

The bill aims to provide a competitive grant program for collaborative state, tribal, local, or regional networks and partnerships. It will also establish a mentorship/apprenticeship program to connect retiring fishermen and vessel owners with new and beginning fishermen.

The Young Fishermen’s Development Act also provides support for regional training and education programs focused on sustainable and accountable fishing practices, marine stewardship, and sound business practices.

“The growing bipartisan momentum behind this bill is very encouraging and shows that leaders in both parties understand that fishermen in today’s world need to know a lot more than simply how to fish,” said John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. 

Young fishermen, which represented FCC members from every U.S. coast, recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to urge legislators to support the bill. 

The Senate legislation aligns closely with a House version introduced in April by U.S. Reps. Don Young (R-Alaska) and Seth Moulton (D-Massachusetts).

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