The newly formed group has proclaimed itself as a united voice for “accountable and thriving fisheries.”
According to Brett Veerhusen, a veteran of Alaska’s commercial fisheries, and executive director of Seafood Harvesters, the idea is to bring the small fishermen’s voices to the nation’s capital. “We are providing a mechanism and organization to be telling the stories of American fishermen and how federal law really affects commercial fishermen,” he told Fishermen’s News on June 17.
Participation in a much-publicized panel discussion during Capitol Hill Ocean Week, offered the organization a lot exposure and networking opportunities, he said.
Among the major concerns of Seafood Harvesters are the reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, which is now before Congress, the US Coast Guard load line classification and alternative compliance rules, and the moratorium on vessel discharge, which is set to expire at the end of this year. “The moratorium has already been extended for recreational boats, and we want to even the playing field” for commercial fishermen, he said.
So far 14 organizations have thrown their support behind Seafood Harvesters, including Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, of Seattle; the Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association, Kodiak; Fishing Vessel Owners Association, Seattle; The Fort Bragg Groundfish Association, Fort Bragg, CA., North Pacific Fishing Association, Homer, Alaska, and United Catcher Boats, Seattle.
The organization’s five member board includes Chris Brown, Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association; John Schmidt, Gulf Fishermen’s Association; Jack Cox, South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association, and Brent Paine, United Catcher Boats, Seattle; and Mark Gleason, Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, Seattle.
More information about the organization is at www.seafoodharvesters.org