Sullivan Applauds Senate Passage of American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) is applauding the Senate passage of S. 1322, the American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act, bipartisan legislation he introduced alongside Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to create an Advisory Committee to assist in the awarding of fisheries marketing, research, and development grants. Alaska Congressman Don Young is the sponsor of companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Saltonstall-Kennedy grants are often recognized for making real, meaningful impacts in our nation’s fishing industry, but without the proper input and oversight from our fishermen we’re missing out on a number of opportunities for improvement and growth, particularly for marketing and overall global competitiveness,” said Senator Dan Sullivan. “Reestablishing this advisory committee is an important step forward for the strength of our fisheries and the long-term vitality of American caught seafood. I often say, Alaska is the superpower of seafood, but in order to maintain that remarkable status we must better focus federal grant dollars towards the priorities and needs of our nation’s fishing industry, including fishermen, vessel owners, distributors and processors. I commend lawmakers and industry groups from across the country for coming together in support of this legislation, and look forward to its swift passage in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

“On behalf of the National Seafood Marketing Coalition I want to thank Senator Sullivan for his hard work in getting the Senate to pass this important legislation,” said Bruce Schactler, Director of the National Seafood Marketing Coalition. “This legislation will ensure that the original intent of the Saltonstall-Kennedy program is met by allowing U.S. Seafood Industry experts to help guide those much needed seafood development and marketing funds towards increasing the value of our fisheries for all sectors of the U.S. seafood industry and our coastal communities that rely so much on them.”

S. 1322, the American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act unanimously passed the Senate on August 22, 2018 with a clarifying amendment offered by Senator Dan Sullivan and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA). The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.

The Saltonstall Kennedy (SK) Act provides funding for fisheries marketing and development. These funds are derived from a portion of fishery import duties. To inform how these funds are allocated, Congress authorized a group of experts from different segments of the fishing industry to advise on commercial fishing problems and needs. Following a 1972 law, the original American Fisheries Advisory Committee was disbanded. In the Committee’s absence, the National Marine Fisheries Service decides, by its own criteria, who receives grants. In some cases, the priorities of the fishing industry do not match those of NMFS. The American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act would bring back the board of experts, with members chosen regionally and across all sectors of the fishing industry, to bring industry back into the process of identifying needs and funding priorities.

In 2017, NMFS issued 41 grants worth $10 million.

The American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act has garnered the support of a number of organizations, including the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, the United Fishermen of Alaska, and the North Pacific Fisheries Association.