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Regional News

Amata co-sponsors bipartisan young fishermen’s development bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Office of the American Samoa Congressional Delegate) — On Thursday, U.S. Congresswoman Aumua Amata announced she is an original cosponsor of new bipartisan legislation to strengthen the future of fishing in American Samoa, and promote the development of the next generation of commercial fishermen with federal grant support.

The Young Fishermen’s Development Act, H.R. 1240, was introduced by the Dean of the House, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, and Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, Rep. Aumua Amata, R-American Samoa, and Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Massachusetts.

“Fishing is the lifeblood of the American Samoan economy,” said Aumua Amata. “This program will ensure that our young fishermen are equipped and prepared for the highly dynamic 21st century world. I want to thank Dean of the House, Don Young, for his tireless championing of American fishing, along with Congressman Golden and Congressman Moulton.”

Click to enlarge
U.S. Congresswoman Aumua Amata with the Dean of the House, U.S. Congressman Don Young, and some members of Alaska’s Samoan community in 2017.  Contributed photo

For the first time ever, this legislation would create a national grant program through the Department of Commerce that would support training, education, and workplace development for the next generation of commercial fishermen throughout the country.

“Young commercial fishermen are facing bigger challenges than ever before – new barriers to entry, limited training opportunities, and a lack of support,” 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’m proud to stand with our young fishermen by introducing this important piece of legislation.”

“Young Mainers need opportunities for good-paying jobs that stay here in Maine,” said Congressman Golden. “Preparing them to enter our fishing industry is just common sense. Our bill provides training and resources to Maine’s next generation of commercial fishermen, helping them get their sea legs and support our coastal economies. I’m focused on supporting Maine’s heritage industries and bringing good-paying jobs to communities across our state.”

“Fishing is one of the oldest jobs there is, but the industry is changing rapidly with the evolution of our economy,” said Rep. Seth Moulton. “Congress needs to step up so a new generation of Americans in Gloucester and in communities across the country can access the skills and technology they need to succeed as commercial fishermen. I’m grateful to Representatives Young and Golden for their collaboration on this bill and in broader efforts to support the sustainable commercial fishing industry and the communities where fishing isn’t just a job but a way of life.”

As specified in a joint announcement of the bill, the legislation would authorize up to $200,000 in competitive grants through NOAA’s Sea Grant Program to support new and established local and regional training, education, outreach, and technical assistance initiatives for young fishermen. These programs, workshops and services include seamanship, navigation, electronics, and safety; vessel and engine care, maintenance, and repair; innovative conservation fishing gear engineering and technology; entrepreneurship and good business practices; direct marketing, supply chain, and traceability; financial and risk management, including vessel, permit, and quota purchasing.

The new program would work to reverse the longtime decline in younger Americans entering the fishing industry. The legislation would create a competitive grant that is modeled after a success story called the Department of Agriculture’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program. This new effort would provide meaningful resources for younger generations of Americans starting out and growing in the fishing industry.