The passage of the Young Fishermen’s Development Act by Congress this week has won praise from the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance.
The act, modeled after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s successful Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, creates the first federal program dedicated to training, educating, and assisting the next generation of commercial fishermen and includes an apprenticeship program to connect retiring fishermen and vessel owners with new and beginning fishermen.
“The Young Fishermen’s Development Act is crucial to the success of the Cape’s small-boat fleets and the communities that rely on commercial fishing, an industry that helped build the peninsula and is a vital part of the new blue economy,” said John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “Successful captains and their dedicated crews have swapped out their oilskins for suits, ties and skirts over the years to travel to Washington, D.C. to tell the story of why the bill helps guarantee a brighter future for the next generation and also offers increased opportunities for the country’s consumers to enjoy fish caught off America’s shores.”
The Fishermen’s Alliance is a member of the Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC), an association of community-based, small-boat commercial fishing groups from Maine to Alaska, which began advocating for legislation to turn the tide on the greying of the fleet in 2015.
At the coalition’s urging, the bill was first filed in 2017, and has been doggedly supported by Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren as well as Congressmen Seth Moulton and William Keating.
“Despite centuries of fishing tradition in Massachusetts’ coastal communities, new fishermen are finding it a challenge to join the industry,” said Markey in a statement that also thanked his Alaskan colleagues. “Our legislation will help ensure that our fishing industry continues to attract and grow future generations of young fishermen. More young men and women will be pushing off the dock into new careers and fully participating in the economy of their communities.”
Over the years, more than 50 fishermen in FCC have had close to 200 meetings with members of Congress to talk about how important the bill was to the future of the industry. The bill would provide financial support for local and regional training and education in sustainable and accountable fishing practices, marine stewardship, successful business practices, and technical initiatives that address the needs of beginning fishermen through a competitive grants program for collaborative state, tribal, local, or regionally-based networks or partnerships.
For more on this story, visit https://capecodfishermen.org