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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Open Letter to President Obama

By Brett Veerhusen


September 09, 2015
Wednesday PM

Dear Mr. President,

The Seafood Harvesters of America (the Harvesters) represents 17 commercial fishing organizations from Alaska, to the Gulf of Mexico and New England. As its Executive Director, a life-long Alaskan fisherman, Bristol Bay fisherman, and the son of a man who has fished for 45 years in Alaskan waters, I [welcomed your recent] visit to this great state.

The Harvesters applauds you for choosing to sit down with real, everyday Alaskan commercial fishermen who nobly harvest an American public resource. We urge you to take this opportunity to speak to the issues of importance that are essential to the livelihoods of commercial fishermen in Alaska and the nation.

We are writing to ask that you use your trip to Alaska, and your meeting with commercial fishermen in Bristol Bay, to send a strong message about how the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) is working for this nation. Alaskans have demonstrated the audacity to succeed in the presence of all the uncertainties associated with climate change. We do so as an industry shielded by a strong MSA, which guides a public, science-based decision-making process.

The Harvesters agree with your Administration that the MSA reauthorization needs minimal changes. While we are amenable to some minor changes, we are calling on lawmakers and your Administration to keep the MSA largely intact. Mr. President, one of our biggest concerns is legislative attempts to allow individual states to takeover species management in federal waters, which would set a dangerous precedent that could unravel the responsible management of America’s fisheries. Thank you for your tireless support of this time - and climate - tested document. U.S. fishery management is a beacon of prosperity within global fisheries.

The global economic environment that our products compete in is now protected through the establishment your Task Force to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. By importing seafood, the U.S. imports the ethics and ethos of the country of origin’s fishing practices. As a world leader in sustainable fishery management, American consumers demand our imported seafood to be of the same ethics and ethos that American fishermen harvest. We commend the Task Force for recognizing sustainable fisheries as an enormous benefit to ocean stakeholders.

Additionally, we ask that the Seafood Harvesters of America have a seat at the table in future discussions regarding marine monuments and protected areas. It is critically important that these initiatives are locally driven and focus on best available science rather than politics. We look forward to working with your Administration to ensure that we protect our delicate ocean resources and our American fishing economy into the future.

Millions of people – grocery patrons, restaurant owners, and consumers nationwide – rely on commercial fisheries to help get their dinner from ocean to plate. In 2012 alone, Americans consumed 4.5 billion pounds of seafood, which added 1.3 million direct and indirect jobs to our nation’s economy. Seafood Harvesters of America is the voice for our country’s 190-foot trawlers as well as the 30-foot hook and line fishermen and are working hard to ensure the food security of our great nation remains sustainable and thriving.

With the support of your Administration and policy makers in Washington D.C., salmon, crab, pollock and snapper – to name just a few – will remain part of a complete American dinner.


Brett Veerhusen
Executive Director
Seafood Harvesters of America


About: "Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association, Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, Cordova District Fishermen United, Fishing Vessel Owners Association, Fort Bragg Groundfish Association, George’s Bank Cod Fixed Gear Sector, Inc., Gulf Fishermen’s Association, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance, New Hampshire Groundfish Sectors, North Pacific Fishing Association, Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association, Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association, South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association, United Catcher Boats"


Received August 31, 2015 - Published September 09, 2015



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