Senators Introduce Young Fishermen’s Development Act

U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) yesterday introduced the Young Fishermen’s Development Act, legislation to mitigate the challenges facing new entrants into the fishing industry and bolster recruiting by coordinating existing regional training opportunities and implementing a new apprenticeship program.

“Fishing employs more Alaskans than any other industry in the state, but high barriers and costs remain for newer generations attempting to fill the ranks of this vital sector of our economy,” said Senator Dan Sullivan. “This legislation will coalesce regional efforts to lower these barriers through new grants, training opportunities and an apprenticeship program that will help harness the experience of seasoned fishermen. Replenishing the stocks of qualified stewards of our fisheries will help ensure Alaska remains the superpower of seafood.”

“For centuries, fishing has been at the heart of coastal communities in Massachusetts but it is an increasingly challenging one for new fishermen to join,” said Senator Edward J. Markey. “This legislation will help make sure that our fishing industry continues to attract future generations of fishermen. These training programs will help young men and women be able to push off the dock into new careers and make vital economic contributions to their communities.”

“This legislation is an important step in addressing some of the barriers facing young people trying to join the commercial fishing fleet,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “Through support of training, education, and workplace development, it is my hope that we can pass down the values and lifestyles that fishing creates. Fishermen are woven into the fabric of our communities in Alaska, so we must ensure that we nurture the incoming generations. I am proud to support our young fishermen.”

“Good fisheries management and investments like stock assessments and new vessels are all crucial to the economic success of our fishing industry —but we also need to make investments in the next generation of fishermen,” said Senator Maria Cantwell. “This bill would support training and resources for young fishermen looking to access the fishing industry, develop sustainable fishing careers, and support their families. Ensuring generations of fishermen can keep fishing  is critical to strengthening our coastal economies.”

"As one of those dependent on the long-term success of our working waterfronts, I'm very grateful to Senator Sullivan and Senator Murkowski for supporting legislation that recognizes the challenges today's fishermen face," said Hannah Heimbuch, an Alaska commercial fisherman and staff for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council. "By supporting independent fishermen with this action, we now have an opportunity to bolster American food security and the health of coastal communities."

“The growing bipartisan momentum behind this bill is very encouraging and shows that leaders in both parties understand that fishermen in today’s world need to know a lot more than simply how to fish,” said John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “We appreciate Senator Markey’s leadership in getting this program off the ground because it will give the next generation of fishermen training in fisheries management, business planning and market development tools they’ll need to make a good living bringing sustainable seafood to Americans.”

The Young Fishermen’s Development Program would include:

  • Competitive grants program for collaborative state, tribal, local, or regionally based networks or partnerships. 
  • A mentorship/apprenticeship program to connect retiring fishermen and vessel owners with new and beginning fishermen.
  • Provide financial support for local and regional training and education in sustainable and accountable fishing practices and marine stewardship, business practices, and technical initiatives that address the needs of beginning fishermen. 
  • $2 million annual authorization for 6 years for program implementation.


Related Issues: Alaska's Fisheries