Press Releases

Bill to Establish National Young Fishermen’s Program Introduced

Date Posted: April 13, 2017       Categories: AMCC Blog AMCC in the News Press Releases       Tags: Federal Fisheries Policy, Fisheries Access, Young Fishermen's Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 13, 2017

Bill to Establish National Young Fishermen’s Program Introduced

Initiative Gains Momentum as Reps. Young and Moulton Sponsor Legislation to Empower Next Generation of Commercial Fishermen

Washington, DC – Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) have introduced the Young Fishermen’s Development Act of 2017 (H.R. 2079), a bill that would establish the first national program to support young men and women entering the commercial fishing industry. The bipartisan, bicoastal legislation, was introduced on April 6 and would provide grants of up to $200,000 (totaling $2 million annually) through NOAA’s Sea Grant Program. H.R. 2079 marks a big step forward in the Fishing Communities Coalition’s (FCC) push to launch the first coordinated, nationwide effort to train, educate and assist the next generation of commercial fishermen. Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC), a member organization of the FCC, has played an integral role in shaping this important legislation and generating diverse support from fishing communities and leaders.

“Alaskans understand that coastal communities rely on strong fisheries and fishermen to thrive,” said Alaska fisherman Hannah Heimbuch, AMCC staff and coordinator of the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network. “This is an excellent opportunity to work with our nation’s leaders to nurture future generations of commercial fishermen, empowering them to be capable business owners, strong community leaders, and providers of sustainably harvested American seafood.”

Despite daunting challenges that have made it harder than ever for young men and women to start a career in commercial fishing—including the high cost of entry, financial risks and limited entry-level opportunities—there is not a single federal program dedicated to training, educating and assisting young people starting their careers in commercial fishing. AMCC recognizes that this is a vital part of supporting the healthy future of coastal communities, families, and the food and opportunity they provide. The legislation introduced this week is modeled after the USDA’s successful Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which is credited with preparing hundreds of young farmers and ranchers for rewarding careers in agriculture.

“Congressman Young has long been a champion of Alaska’s fishermen, and we thank him for his strong leadership on this vital issue,” said Linda Behnken, executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association. “Empowering the next generation of young fishermen is essential to economic opportunity, food security and our entire way of life.”

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have expressed initial support for the legislation, as dozens of FCC members, including commercial fishermen from New England, Alaska, California and the Gulf Coast have met with them to promote this and other priorities of small-boat community-based commercial fishermen.

“This innovative new program is only one effort to preserve fishing heritage and encourage new participation in the industry,” said 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.”

“The fishing industry is vital to the Sixth District and to our entire region, but we’re at a crossroads,” said Moulton. “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.”

In addition to building congressional support, the Fishing Communities Coalition and its member organizations intend to meet with representatives from the Trump administration to seek support for the program.

Founded in 1994, Alaska Marine Conservation Council is a community-based, nonprofit organization committed to protecting the long-term health of Alaska’s marine ecosystems and sustaining the working waterfronts of our state’s coastal communities. Our members include fishermen, subsistence harvesters, marine scientists, business owners, conservationists, families, and others who care deeply about Alaska’s oceans.

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AMCC’s Theresa Peterson Appointed to North Pacific Council

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 27, 2016

CONTACTS:

Shannon Carroll, Fisheries Policy Director
Alaska Marine Conservation Council
907.382.1590 // shannon@akmarine.org

Jen Leahy, Communications Manager
Alaska Marine Conservation Council
907.787.9257 // jen@akmarine.org

Peterson and Laukitis confirmed to North Pacific Fishery Management Council
Two long-time commercial fishermen from the Gulf of Alaska appointed

Anchorage, AK — Alaskans Theresa Peterson and Buck Laukitis were confirmed today by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to serve a three-year term on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council). Peterson, a Kodiak resident, will replace long time Council member Duncan Fields, also of Kodiak, who served three consecutive terms. Laukitis resides in Homer and replaces Dave Long of Wasilla.

Theresa Peterson

Theresa Peterson

“I am honored to serve on the Council and look forward to the opportunity to give back to a fishing industry that has provided so much for me and my family,” said Peterson. “Many of us here in Alaska today had a chance to get into the fishing industry; we stayed and raised our families in coastal communities throughout the state. I want the next generation of fishermen to have similar opportunities to commercial fish and work their way up to ownership. Small boat fishermen are the fabric of maritime communities around the state and their voices must be heard in the Council arena along with large scale fisheries.”

The Council is one of eight regional councils established by the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) to manage federal fisheries (3-200 miles from shore). The MSA is designed to encourage local level participation and representation through the regional council structure. The Council also works closely with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Alaska Board of Fisheries to coordinate management program in state and federal waters.

The Council is made up of 11 voting members and four non-voting members. The 11 voting members include seven stakeholders that are familiar with the fishing industry, marine conservation, or both. Five of those seats are designated for Alaskans and are appointed by the governor. The selection is then confirmed by the commerce secretary. Peterson and Laukitis were Gov. Walker’s preferred candidates.

Peterson has participated in a variety of state and federal fisheries, including pot fishing, set-netting, seining, driftnetting, and long-lining, in addition to subsistence fisheries. She and her husband own and operate a small commercial boat and salmon set-net site in Kodiak. She has been a steadfast advocate for small-boat, independent fishing businesses, who many believe comprise the heart of Alaskan fishing communities.

Peterson is a multi-term member of the Council’s Advisory Panel, as well as an outreach coordinator for Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC). As a member of the Advisory Panel, she works to improve participation of small scale and community sectors and encourages community members to engage in the process to influence policy making decisions which reflect Alaskan coastal community values.

“The Council process benefits from input from coastal community members who live with the outcome of the management decisions. I have long felt that small scale fishermen were the most underrepresented group in the Council arena and I am encouraged by an Alaskan administration that supports broad representation on the Council,” said Peterson.

buck

Buck Laukitis

Laukitis also has a long history of engagement in Alaskan fisheries. As a long-time commercial fisherman, he brings a direct understanding of the importance of sustainable fisheries management. He is the owner and operator of two fishing vessels that fish for salmon, halibut, and cod in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutians Islands. Fishing is a family business for Laukitis; his wife, two daughters, and son-in-law all work in the family fishing business.

Laukitis brings a comprehensive understanding of the federal fisheries management process. He served as vice president of AMCC’s board of directors for eight years, representing the organization at congressional hearings surrounding the reauthorization of the MSA in the mid-90s. Laukitis was also president of the Homer-based North Pacific Fisheries Association, where he represented the organization before the Council and International Pacific Halibut Commission on a wide range of issues.

“As the owner of two vessels and a nearly year-round fishing business, Buck understands what fishermen need to keep their vessels working and profitable. His experience in Alaskan fisheries and fisheries policy, as well as his commitment to the resource, make him highly qualified to serve on the Council,” said Kodiak commercial fisherman Darren Platt.

Founded in 1994, Alaska Marine Conservation Council is a community-based, nonprofit organization committed to protecting the long-term health of Alaska’s marine ecosystems and sustaining the working waterfronts of our state’s coastal communities. Our members include fishermen, subsistence harvesters, marine scientists, business owners, conservationists, families, and others who care deeply about Alaska’s oceans.

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Local fishing, farming groups to bring Greenhorns director to Alaska

Date Posted: September 10, 2015       Categories: Press Releases       Tags: Calendar/Events, Young Fishermen's Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Local fishing, farming groups to bring Greenhorns director to Alaska
Young Farmers Advocate, Severine von Tscharner Fleming, Embarks on Alaska Speaking Tour

Contact: Samantha Baker, Engagement & Development Director, Alaska Marine Conservation Council
907.277.5357 // sam@akmarine.org

Severine von Tscharner Fleming, director of the young farmers organization, The Greenhorns, is coming to Alaska this September for a 9-day speaking tour and to meet with young farmers and fishermen in Kenai, Homer, Palmer and Anchorage. Fishing and farming groups worked together to bring the farmer, activist and organizer from New York’s Champlain Valley to engage with young Alaskan farmers and fishermen in conversations about their livelihoods and local food.

Fleming’s work and lectures celebrate the entrance of a new generation of farmers into American agriculture, and the rebuilding of regional food sovereignty. Now in its 6th year, Greenhorns focuses on convening in-person networking mixers, conferences and workshops, as well as producing new media and publications for their national network.

In addition to directing the Greenhorns, Fleming also runs the Agrarian Trust, working to build a national network, tools, templates and pilot projects to support new farmers with land access, and opportunity, and address the ownership transition of 400 million acres of US farmland.

“After seeing Severine speak at conferences in the Lower 48 last year, our staff wanted to bring her up to speak with young fishermen in Alaska because of the similarities between challenges faced by young fishermen and young farmers,” said Kelly Harrell, Executive Director of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC) and board member of the Alaska Food Policy Council. AMCC is currently working on a multi-year research project with University of Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Sea Grant called ‘The Graying of the Fleet,’ exploring barriers young fishermen face when entering the industry.

“What we are learning about young fishermen in Alaska seemed to parallel what Severine talks about with young farmers: they face high costs of entering this career path tempered by a love for the lifestyle those jobs create and a real care and stewardship for the sustainable resources these young people are using,” said Harrell.

Fleming’s speaking tour will consist of the following presentations:

  • Friday, September 18th at 7pm: “Growing Local Food Systems: Tales from the Frontlines” presented at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association in Kenai, AK.
  • Sunday, September 20th at 12pm: “Greenhorns – Lessons of Young Farmers for Young Fishermen” presented at the Homer Council on the Arts in Homer, followed by a conversation and lunch for young fishermen. This event is part of AMCC’s Homer Halibut Festival (September 19-20th).
  • Tuesday, September 22nd at 7pm: “Growing Local Food Systems” presented at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Matanuska Experiment Farm in Palmer.
  • Wednesday, September 23rd at 7pm: Following Alaska Pacific University’s Farmers Market, Fleming will present at the Carr-Gottstein Lecture Hall at APU in Anchorage.
  • Thursday, September 24th at 3pm: A screening of the Greenhorns documentary film  followed by a discussion with Fleming at the Bear Tooth Theatrepub in Anchorage.

All events are free and open to the public. Severine’s Alaska speaking tour is sponsored by the Alaska Food Policy Council and the Alaska Marine Conservation Council.

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Council compromises on bycatch cuts

Date Posted: June 8, 2015       Categories: Press Releases       Tags: Bering Sea Halibut Bycatch, Fisheries Conservation, Halibut Bycatch

Reduction falls short of conservation needs

For Immediate Release: June 8, 2015

Contacts

  • Shannon Carroll, Fisheries Director, Alaska Marine ConservationCouncil,(907) 382-1590shannon@akmarine.org
  • Jeff Kauffman, CEO St. Paul Fishing Company, Bering Sea halibut fisherman, (907) 952-247
  • Linda Behnken, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, Fisherman, (907) 747-0695

After significant public testimony and deliberation in Sitka this week, members of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to cut the halibut bycatch caps for the two largest halibut bycatch users in the Bering Sea, by 25 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

“Though a step in the right direction, the Council’s reduction falls short of the cuts needed to ensure the sustained participation of Bering Sea communities in the halibut fishery, and fails to adequately address theconservation concerns voiced over the past week,” said Shannon Carroll, Fisheries Director for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council. “While we’re glad to see that the Council is committed to working towards a better solution in the future, we feel that the Council missed an opportunity to protect one of our state’s most important fisheries.”

The decision comes after heated council and public debate around a growing concern for the health of the halibut resource and halibut-dependent communities in the North Pacific. Halibut fleets coast-wide have experienced significant cuts in harvest quota in the past decade, aconservation response to declining stocks — particularly in the Bering Sea. As fleets and decision makers look to provide some relief for halibut-dependent communities on the verge of fishery closure, a critical eye has focused on the Bering Sea’s largest halibut user — those who remove halibut as bycatch.

In the Bering Sea in 2014, the groundfish fishery has removed, as bycatch, seven times more halibut than were harvested in the directed fishery. While groundfish fleets have made a number of voluntary reductions to bycatch harvest, bycatch caps have remained relatively static through more than a decade of declining halibut stocks.

“Reflecting back on our community and our small boat fleets, and the uncertainty that this brings to our fleet, not knowing if we are going to have a fishery or not, we were disappointed in the final action that was approved and felt like it didn’t go far enough, particularly for some sectors,” said Jeff Kauffman, a halibut fisherman from St. Paul and a member of the Advisory Panel. “We’re very concerned about the future. For St. Paul’s future, and in the Bering Sea and the Aleutian island communities —what this means for our way of life and our economy if it goes away.”

The recent council decision generated dissatisfaction from both sides. Halibut fishermen see the cuts falling far short of the meaningful change needed for essential conservation of the resource, and for salvaging minimum fishing opportunities for communities in the Bering Sea that are almost entirely dependent on the halibut fishery. Groundfish representatives claim that the reduction represents an unattainable cut for which they lack the tools to carry out without significant economic harm.

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AMCC Joins New Coalition Calling on Congress to Act

Date Posted: September 9, 2014       Categories: Press Releases       Tags: Magnuson-Stevens Act, Working Waterfronts

Newly-formed National Coalition of Fishing Groups Calls on Congress for Further Actions on the Reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act

The Fishing Community Coalition (FCC) is a newly formed coalition of community-based, small boat fishing groups across the nation. Drawn together by common values of science-based management and community preservation, the FCC is committed to rebuilding marine ecosystems and restoring fishing economies in the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA).

“Healthy fishing communities through healthy fisheries,” is the central principal of the FCC, formed specifically to ensure that MSA reauthorization moves our nation forward in our fisheries management regime. According to the FCC, current drafts of the MSA in both the House and Senate fall far short of what is needed to ensure a healthy future for fisheries and fishing communities.

In a letter sent today to the Chairs of the House and Senate committees charged with developing legislation to reauthorize the MSA, the Fishing Community Coalition said, “We cannot realize the full potential—biologically, socially or economically—of our nation’s marine fisheries without robust and well-managed fish stocks as well as strong protections for fisheries access in traditional fishing ports. A reauthorization that simply reaffirms the status quo, or, worse, moves backwards, is something our Nation’s fisheries and fishermen cannot accept.  We can and must do more.”

The Fishing Community Coalition’s membership includes the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, Alaska Marine Conservation Council, Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.



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