Backers push industry members to sign a letter of support to get bill through the House

On Aug. 22, the Senate passed bill 1322 to establish the American Fisheries Advisory Committee with unanimous consent.

“That’s a big deal,” said Bruce Schactler, who helped write the bill and has been advocating for different versions of this committee for nearly a decade as a member of the National Seafood Marketing Coalition.

“Who passes anything out of the Senate unanimously?” asked Schactler. “Who passes anything out of the Senate at all, let alone unanimously?”

The Senate referred the bill to the House Natural Resources Committee, where it awaits markup to be sent to the floor for a vote.

If the House does pass the bill this year, then in the 2019 fiscal year, 10 percent of the Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant funds would be delegated specifically to fisheries research and development. Proposals would be reviewed by a new committee of industry representatives, including fishermen, seafood marketers, processors, aquaculture stakeholders, and six regional seats.

“What we’re hoping will happen is the House takes this version verbatim and passes it as is,” Schactler added.

Looming on the horizon is another session of Congress, which would mean starting all over again.

“This has got to get done,” Schactler said.

The bill is even more critical now, he added, with international trade disputes causing concerns over the stability and availability of global markets.

“All the more reason to concentrate on new products and market expansion in our own domestic market,” Schactler said. “It needs to be prioritized. I think it’s long overdue that we did this.”

If you would like to show your support for the bill, download this form letter to send to your federal representatives.

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Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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