CHATHAM – A bipartisan bill has been introduced by the House of Representatives to establish the first national program to help young men and women enter the commercial fishing industry.
The legislation, introduced by Congressmen Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Don Young (R-AK), would provide up to $2 million a year in grant funding through NOAA’s Sea Grant Program.
“This bill is designed to allow the next generation of fishermen, or people who want to get into the fishing industry, to receive training to become successful businessmen or women,” said John Pappalardo, the CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “Things have changed a lot in fisheries and the regulatory environment and business planning are important elements of understanding how to run a successful fishing business above and beyond catching fish.”
The legislation is modeled after the USDA’s successful Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which is credited with preparing hundreds of young farmers and ranchers for agricultural careers.
If passed the bill would allow regional organizations, like the Alliance, to apply for grants up to $200,000 to offer training and education programs.
“It wouldn’t be an appropriation or new tax dollars,” Pappalardo said. “It would be existing monies that are already in different programmatic funds within the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.”
Representatives from the Alliance will head to Washington D.C. later this month to join other groups from the Fishing Communities Coalition to lobby lawmakers.
“We will be walking Capitol Hill for a couple of days talking about this bill,” Pappalardo said.
By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter