Commercial Fishermen of America
At no time in our nation’s history has there been a strong voice that solely speaks on behalf of the men and women who risk their lives at sea to provide the country with seafood.
Commercial fishing is the oldest and arguably the most important industry in this nation’s history. Our country was discovered, explored and settled by people searching for new fishing grounds. IFR initiated and is coordinating the Commercial Fishermen of America to work to create the first unified voice for the commercial fishing fleet and communities. The $28 billion in dockside seafood sales each year doesn’t tell the whole story of the full importance of commercial fishing industry in this country. The industry also supports countless related jobs, from boat builders to bait suppliers, which strengthen the nation’s economy each year, creating additional revenue for our local and national communities alike.
Fishermen from different parts of the country and different gear sectors have come together to share their vision for a national group that promotes the values and culture of commercial fishing and the coastal communities they support. CFA works to advocate for fishermen’s rights in Washington, D.C. and in the media. The organization works to promote a positive image of commercial fishermen and combat negative stereotypes, as well as foster professionalism within the country’s fleets. CFA works to build bridges between fishing organizations, gear types, and regions to link commercial fishermen together across the whole country. Most importantly, CFA advocates for issues that support all commercial fishermen.
CFA accomplishments include:
Health Care for Fishing Families.
Due to a grassroots letter writing campaign mounted by CFA last year, the health care language of HR 4940 section 4(e) gained bipartisan support from key allies in 109th Congress. Unfortunately, because of some jurisdictional issues, the Health Care for Fishing Families language did not get inserted into the Magnuson Stevens Act Reauthorization as CFA had hoped. This year, with the changed political landscape, the prospect of getting Health Care legislation signed into law is much better. In the 110th Congress some of our key allies on this issue are at the forefront of the political spectrum, while some of our detractors are no longer in office. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is committed to making health care a priority; Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) and Senator Kennedy (D-MA) continue to be strong supporters of health care for fishermen especially in light of their successful health care program in Massachusetts. Additionally, Representative Don Young (R-AK) continues to be an advocate on this issue on behalf of fishermen.
Letter to NMFS Regarding Ten Year Aquaculture Plan.
The CFA sent a letter to the Aquaculture Program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) asking for an extension of the comment period for the Interim Final 10-Year Plan of the NOAA Aquaculture Program. NOAA did not extend the comment period, but is now accepting comments informally. If you would like to read a copy of the Interim Final 10 Year Plan on Aquaculture and for information on where to send informal comments, see: http://aquaculture.noaa.gov/.
Loran C Support Letter.
CFA sent a letter detailing CFA’s support of the continuation of the existing Loran C Radio Navigation System. The Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are considering discontinuing funding of the program after 2007. This program is still widely used by fishermen and other maritime enthusiasts around the country. At this time the public comment period has ended, DOT and DHS are continuing with their decision making process, and it is unknown at this time what their final decision will be on the Loran C.
US Fishermen Delegates at World Forum on Food Sovereignty.
Two of the CFA’s Board members, Margaret Bryan Curole and Jeremy Brown, along with CFA’s National Organizer Sara Randall, were invited to participate in Nyeleni, the World Forum for Food Sovereignty. Nyeleni took place February 23-27 in the small West African village of Selingue, Mali. The Forum was made up of 500 delegates-mostly food producers-from 88 different countries, who came together to discuss a global action plan for food sovereignty. The CFA delegation was able to interject the US fisheries perspective into discussions, while connecting and learning from fishermen from around the world. The product of the forum was the Declaration of Nyeleni, a document that will continue to be used in peopleâ€™s struggles around the world for food sovereignty. Curole, Brown, and Randall were sponsored on this trip by Food and Water Watch (http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/) and National Family Farm Coalition (http://www.nffc.net/). To read the full Declaration of Nyeleni and more information on Nyeleni see: http://www.nyeleni2007.org.
CFA continues to grow to include more commercial fishing organizations, associates of the fishing community, and individual fishermen. As CFA grows in scope and depth the organization will be able to tackle more issues pertaining to the commercial fishing fleet and fishing communities. Through a united voice, CFA will be a powerful force with a national influence to benefit the commercial fishing industry.