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  • Writer's pictureBen Martens

Young Fishermen Visit Capitol Hill to Talk Policy

Last week, the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association visited Washington, D.C. with a group of Maine fishermen to meet with members of Congress and discuss the issues that matter to them, their communities and their businesses.

From left: Emily Tucker, Lexie Saxton, Amy Watson Saxton, Alex Todd, and Josh Todd in front of the Capitol building on their April 24 visit to Congress.

Executive Director Ben Martens and Policy Analyst Emily Tucker from the Fishermen’s Association were accompanied by Alex and Josh Todd, a father and son duo of fishermen from Chebeague Island, and by 14-year-old Harpswell lobsterman Lexie Saxton and her mother, Amy Watson Saxton, also of Harpswell.

From left: Ben Martens, Lexie Saxton, Josh Todd, Sen. Susan Collins, Alex Todd, Amy Watson Saxton, and Emily Tucker, pictured in the office of Sen. Susan Collins.

As part of the Fishing Communities Coalition, the group met with Senators Angus King and Susan Collins of Maine as well as Rep. Bruce Poliquin (ME-2) and staff from the office of Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-1). The Mainers also met members of Congress and staff from across the country, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

From left: Ben Martens, Alex Todd, Josh Todd, Sen. Angus King, Lexie Saxton, Emily Tucker, and Amy Watson Saxton, pictured in the office of Sen. Angus King.

Chief among the issues discussed in these meetings was the Young Fishermen’s Development Act (YFDA), a piece of legislation developed by the Fishing Communities Coalition which would create a training and apprenticeship program for new commercial fishermen across the country run by state Sea Grant offices, which would be similar to an existing program in agriculture called the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. The YFDA currently enjoys support from all four members of Congress from Maine.

Members of the FCC from MCFA and the Morro Bay Community Quota Fund (Morro Bay, CA) pictured with Rep. Bruce Poliquin (ME-2), center.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act was the other main topic of discussion in these meetings. This overarching piece of federal fisheries legislation is meant to be updated (or “reauthorized”) every ten years, and we have gone an extra two years since its last intended reauthorization in 2016. While meeting with members of Congress about the Magnuson-Stevens Act, MCFA staff and fishermen emphasized the importance of accountability and science-based decisions in fisheries management.

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