CRABBERS IN DC
The Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers (ABSC or Crabbers) track fisheries management and policy issues at the national level in the US Congress and in various federal agencies, such as the National Marine Fisheries Service, the United States Coast Guard, the US Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The Crabbers work through the Alaska, Washington, and Oregon Congressional delegations, and other legislators to encourage legislation that is positive for Crabbers. In addition, the Crabbers partner with other seafood trade groups in Alaska and elsewhere to gain consensus on national and regional policy.
On a recent trip to DC, the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers highlighted several issues, including combatting illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, refinancing the buyback loan, and protecting the Crab Rationalization Program during any potential Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization.
Crabbers serve up delicious Alaska crab to federal employees at NOAA Fish Fry in DC.
From left: Sean Dwyer, Jennifer Gore-Dwyer, Jim Stone, Jamie Goen, Heidi Gudmundsson, Gretar Gudmundsson
Our efforts in DC contributed to passage of the United States Coast Guard Reauthorization bill in November 2018, providing fishing vessels a permanent solution to incidental discharge requirements that previously hindered running seawater through live holding tanks and washing the deck on fishing vessels. In addition, the bill included provisions that allow new fishing vessels under 180’ to be built to but not maintained to class requirements. This solution increases safety in the fleet by encouraging new vessels to be built and maintained to safety standards, while also providing flexibility in sourcing replacement parts, keeping costs down.
LABELING AND TRACKING CRAB
In an effort for consumers to know where their crab is coming from, Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers have worked on several fronts to improve tracking and labeling of crab so consumers know they are getting crab caught in the US and, in particular, in Alaska.
REFINANCING THE BUYBACK LOAN
In tandem with the implementation of the Crab Rationalization Program to better address the overcapacity in the fishery, the industry requested government assistance in an industry-funded limited access permit buyback system to reduce the number of vessels and permits with access to the crab resource. Through the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Fishing Capacity Reduction Loan Program, a $97 million loan from the government bought 25 vessels and 62 permits permanently out of the fishery.
ABSC continues to support the Magnuson-Stevens Act that makes the US a world leader in sustainable fisheries.
CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT ACT
The Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers support sustainable management of the crab resource so that we have a vibrant fishery that our communities can depend on for generations to come. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, also called the MSA or Magnuson-Stevens Act, is the cornerstone of US fisheries management and the governing law that sets the US as a world leader in sustainable fisheries management.
The Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act first came in to law by Senator Warren Magnuson of Washington in 1976 and was later reauthorized with Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska in 1996, becoming the Magnuson-Stevens Act. It was again reauthorized in 2007. For a history of changes to this important fisheries legislation over the years, check out NOAA Fisheries' website here.
Crabbers want to ensure any future reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act keeps the option for rationalization programs (also called catch shares) like the one that has made our fishery safer.
The Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers tracks any potential changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act and weighs in when needed in order to protect the Crab Rationalization Program which has proven successful in stabilizing and managing this fishery. The Crabbers continue to favor a Magnuson-Stevens Act that supports working through the Regional Fishery Management Council process.