The Fishing Community Coalitions (FCC) was established by MCFA and partner organizations to be the united voice for small-boat, community-focused, commercial fishermen who strive to bring their stewardship vision to bear on national issues. On April 25th, the FCC hosted its annual “Fish Tales” event in Washington and MCFA made the trip to participate! MCFA staff and fishermen joined groups from around the country in bringing the voice of small-boat fishermen to Washington with visits to the hill and our annual happy hour. This year was extra special since the event coincided with the introduction of the Young Fishermen’s Development Act to both chambers of Congress.
Currently, there is no single federal program dedicated to training, educating and assisting the next generation of commercial fishermen. Daunting challenges, including the high cost of entry, financial risks, and limited entry-level opportunities, have made it harder than ever for young men and women to start a career in commercial fishing.
That is why the FCC helped develop H.R. 2079, the Young Fishermen’s Development Act, which is modeled after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program. This legislation seeks to build a national program to support our nation’s aspiring commercial fishermen by creating a competitive grant program at NOAA to support local training, education, outreach, and technical assistance initiatives for young fishermen. The bill would provide funding to entities that offer instruction in seamanship, navigation, electronics, safety, vessel maintenance, entrepreneurship, sustainable fishing, and other efforts related to the commercial fishing business.
To help bring our message of the need for a future generation of fishermen, MCFA and our partners invited young fishermen to come and meet with representatives in DC. Hailing from Chebeague Island, Maine, Alex Todd and his son Josh made the trip and even got some screen time talking about the importance of community, stewardship, and activism for FCC.