Legislation on Working Waterfronts Introduced; Aims to Boost Coastal Economies

Image via office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate on Feb. 12 aims to boost coastal workforces, fisheries, food security and shoreside infrastructure of coastal fisheries communities nationwide.

The Working Waterfronts Act, submitted by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, would also support efforts to mitigate impacts of climate change on coastal communities and strengthen federal conservation research projects.

Given Alaska’s 66,000 miles of coastline and the thousands of people reliant on Alaska’s rivers and oceans for fishery operations, tourism, mariculture and more, Murkowski said there is a need to capitalize on opportunities existing through the blue economy with the infrastructure and workforce needed to meet those goals.

The legislation would also boost research and climate change mitigation efforts to work toward a more sustainable future for coastal economies, she said.

Bruce Schactler, director of the National Seafood Marketing Coalition, said the legislation would help the industry compete in a global market that has long passed these communities by with their subsidies addressing labor, financing, technology and marketing. Schactler is also the food aid program and development director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

The bill calls for investing in energy and shoreside infrastructure, boosting maritime workforce development and the blue economy and supporting sustainable and resilient ecosystems. The legislation includes a maritime workforce grant program to award competitive grants supporting entities engaged in recruiting, educating or training the maritime workforce.

Also included are tax credits for marine energy projects and a rural coastal community processing and cold storage grant program. Full details on the bill are included in the March issue of Fishermen’s News.