Trump signs young fishermen's development bill into law

Published on
January 6, 2021

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday, 5 January, announced he signed a bill into law that will help bring a new generation of fishermen enter the trade.

House Resolution 1240, titled the “Young Fishermen’s Development Act,” calls for the U.S. Department of Commerce to establish a first-of-its-kind grant program to address the dwindling number of young people who want to work in commercial fishing. The program will include training, education, and workforce development initiatives.

The bill was sponsored by U.S. Reps. Don Young (R-Alaska) and Jared Golden (D-Maine), with U.S. Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Aumua Amata (R-American Samoa) signing on as initial cosponsors.

Young filed the bill in February 2019. It passed the U.S. House of Representatives in a voice vote on 10 December, and it cleared the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent 10 days later.

“Fishing is important, not only to Alaskan culture, but to our rich history,” Young said in a statement. “Our legislation is about supporting the livelihoods of fishing communities across the nation by making the next generation aware of the opportunities available in the commercial fishing industry.”

Golden in his statement said the average age of lobstermen and scallop fishermen is over 50.

“The future of the fishing industry depends on young people learning the ropes right now,” he said. “The Young Fishermen’s Development Act takes important action to help young Mainers get ready for fulfilling careers in fishing and lobstering so they can stay in Maine, build our economy, and support our communities. I’m proud that this bipartisan bill is now law.”

According to the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, 40 percent of the fishermen in the U.S. Southeast are 55 or older. In a statement, the group said it had been pushing for the law since 2015.

“The Fishing Communities Coalition saw that this kind of program existed for farmers and ranchers but not for fishermen, and set out to fix that,” said Bobby Kelly, owner-operator of the Miss Brianna in Orange Beach, Alabama. “We worked with commercial fishermen from Texas to Florida to Maine to Alaska for more than half a decade to make this happen. I’m proud to be part of the organization that helped get it done and want to personally thank [former U.S. Sen.] Doug Jones [D-Alabama] and his staff for their support of this bill.”

Maine Fish Conservation Network Executive Director Robert C. Vandermark said in a statement the new law will bolster the sustainable wild-caught seafood industry.

“This important law creates new opportunities that will foster young and beginning fishermen with the education, training, and mentorship needed to overcome the steep financial costs of entering the fishing fleet, allowing them to compete within the industry while fishing in a sustainable manner,” he said. 

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia 

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