In 2015, the Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC), a coalition of seven small-boat commercial fishing organizations dedicated to supporting fishermen and fishery-dependent communities, came together to address structural workforce challenges to the industry. The current generation of commercial fishermen were aging out, yet there was a distinct lack of young and beginning entrants into the industry. This “graying of the fleet” was a consequence of the challenges potential young fishermen are increasingly facing, including high cost of entry and strenuous work in a high-risk environment, limited entry-level opportunities, complicated regulatory frameworks, changing and warming ocean ecosystems, and more.
At that time, we worked closely with the FCC to create a national policy solution to the structural workforce challenges facing the industry. At the time, there were a few, isolated regional efforts to address the challenges young fishermen face, but there was not a single federal program dedicated to easing the way for young fishermen through training, education, and mentorship opportunities. Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had a grant program to help the next generation of farmers and ranchers in this manner—the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Program—that program was not available to seafood harvesters.
Over the next year, we worked closely with the FCC, Congress, and the National Sea Grant Program under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) to develop legislation creating a federal grant program to provide funds for the training and continuing education of future generations of community-focused commercial fishermen. That bill, the Young Fishermen’s Development Act, was introduced in 2017. It ultimately passed the House and Senate in 2020 and was signed into law by Present Trump on January 5, 2021.
Since the bill’s enactment, we have work closely with the FCC, Congress, the Biden Administration, local and regional fishing industry stakeholders on the program’s implementation, which was authorized at $2 million a year for the next five fiscal years.
Create and implement a national, holistic approach to workforce challenges facing the industry and work with Congress and regional fishing groups to provide sufficient funding for the Young Fishermen’s Development Program. These funds will help to train, educate, and empower future generations of commercial fishermen who provide local, healthy, sustainable seafood to American households.
TG&A combines our substantial knowledge and passion for supporting fishermen, fishing-depending communities, and healthy oceans with our expertise and experience in the congressional appropriations process to secure adequate funding to train and prepare the next generation for a successful and rewarding career on the water.
We are a specialized and nimble advocacy firm with deep expertise in government funding, with a focus on transportation infrastructure and natural resource issues. We look forward to hearing from you.