National Legislation Initiative Targets Advancement for Young Fishermen

BARNSTABLE – A proposed piece of legislation titled “National Young Fishermen’s Development Program” is gaining support from Congress on both sides of the aisle.

The legislation would follow the lead of similar programs to that of the USDA’s “Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program,” and will offer incoming and new fishermen training, education, and other forms of assistance.

The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance has a hand in the effort and is a member of the bill’s nationwide sponsoring organization, the Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC).

CEO John Pappalardo said this classic piece of the Cape Cod economy has stagnated in recent years due to a lack of incoming youth to keep it running.

“Captains struggle to find crew to join them, and some of the crew they did have move on to start their own boats,” he said. “Business planning, access to quota, understanding where to invest your resources are things fishermen have to deal with every day, and the barrier to entry for the younger folks is higher than it was in previous years.”

The FCC reports that the average age of those engaged in the commercial fishing industry has risen steadily, similar to what happened in the farming industry years ago.

Since fisheries are managed through the U.S. Department of Commerce, the program would likely be imbedded within that department.

The FCC features organizations similar to the Cape Cod one in Alaska, California, the Gulf of Mexico and Maine. Together, they have met with officials in over 30 congressional offices to urge the passing of their proposed legislation.

Pappalardo said that the FCC’s next step in passing the bill will be to introduce it to the incoming Trump administration.

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