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Source: United States House of Representatives – Alaska Congressman Don Young

Washington, D.C. – Last night, the Young Fishermen’s Development Act (H.R. 1240), legislation authored by Alaska Congressman Don Young, was passed by the U.S. Senate. H.R. 1240 addresses the longtime decline in younger Americans entering the commercial fishing industry. This legislation would create the first ever national grant program through the Department of Commerce to support training, education, and workforce development for the nation’s next generation of commercial fishermen. H.R. 1240 was introduced earlier in the 116th Congress with Representative Jared Golden (D-ME), along with original cosponsors Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Aumua Amata (R-American Samoa). The bill passed the House earlier this month and now heads to the President’s desk. The Senate companion, S.496 was sponsored by Senator Dan Sullivan.

“I want to sincerely thank my colleagues in the Senate for passing this crucial legislation, and special thanks is due to our Senator, Dan Sullivan, for his leadership on this bill. Passage of the Young Fishermen’s Development Act is welcome news for Alaska’s fishing industry, and young people across the country hoping to make a living on the water. Young commercial fishermen are facing bigger challenges than ever before – new barriers to entry, limited training opportunities, lack of support, and now, a global pandemic,” said Congressman Don Young. “Fishing is important not only to Alaskan culture, but it is central to our rich history. Our legislation is about supporting the livelihoods of fishing communities across the nation by making the next generation aware of the opportunities available in the commercial fishing industry. I am grateful to my friends, Representatives Golden, Moulton, and Amata, for partnering with me on this initiative. My work on behalf of our fishing fleet is not done. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated our fishermen, processors, and countless others who depend on a strong, thriving seafood industry. In the 117th Congress, I will continue fighting for a future of opportunity and prosperity for fishermen of all ages.”

“The average age of Maine lobstermen is over 50. Same goes for scallop fishermen. The future of the fishing industry depends on young people learning the ropes right now,” said Congressman Jared Golden. “The Young Fishermen’s Development Act takes important action to help young Mainers get ready for fulfilling careers in fishing and lobstering so they can stay in Maine, build our economy, and support our communities. I’m proud of this bipartisan effort and encourage the president to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.”

“Alaska is the unquestioned superpower of seafood, thanks to our world-class, sustainably-managed fisheries and our countless hard-working fishermen,” said Senator Dan Sullivan. “The sustainability and endurance of this vital industry, which employs more people in Alaska than any other, depends on up-and-coming qualified fishermen. Helping the next generation of Alaskans enter our fisheries will help ensure Alaska remains the superpower of seafood. I appreciate my partners in the House and Senate for joining in this effort to support our great fishing sector and, like so many Alaskans, I eagerly await the President signing the Young Fishermen’s Development Act into law.”

Commercial fishing is part of Gloucester’s and New England’s identity and economy, but the legacy will end if we don’t make it easier for the next generation to get started,” Congressman Seth Moulton said. “These grants will help the industry expand and evolve. Every fisherman and lobsterman I’ve ever met wants to keep the fish stock and our oceans healthy. I’m proud that this money will give new opportunities to young people and also help teach fishermen how to build new gear and fish in new ways that protect our oceans. Congress’s investment will pay off in new technology that works and has buy-in from the people using it to make a living.”

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