Fishermen’s Alliance Receives $500K State Earmark
CHATHAM – The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance has received a $500,000 state earmark to support programs aimed at sustainability, modernizing fishing resources and encouraging young people to enter the industry.
State Rep. Dylan Fernandes presented the funds to Alliance officials at the fish pier Wednesday. Fernandes, a Democrat who represents Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and sections of Falmouth, added the line item in this year’s state budget at the urging of the Alliance.
“We pushed really hard for it,” he said, adding that with another $250,000 appropriated for commercial fishing-related programs in Southeastern Massachusetts and $150,000 going to local towns for shellfish propagation, the funding is “close to $1 million, total, fo the fishing industry here. And we’re going to keep supporting it. It’s iconic and it’s a piece of our culture and it’s of huge economic value.”
“This is really about our economy, not just about our tradition, not just about our culture,” said John Pappalardo, CEO of the Chatham-based Alliance. “And we all come to work every day believing there is a place for fishing in the future of Cape Cod.”
The funds will cover staff time for policy and regulatory monitoring, as well as advancing research, including engaging a working group to modernize fishing resource surveys, collaboration with scientists to modern data collection, and collaborate with a number of agencies such as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the state division of marine fisheries, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Coonemessett Farm Foundation and the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation on a variety of research projects.
With the funds, the Alliance staff will also provide free online training for new and prospective commercial fishermen, continue to host Meet the Fleet events, and hire retired fishermen as pier hosts at the fish pier.
The Alliance, founded in 1991, also managed a fisheries permit bank, which helps fishermen access leases for scallop and groundfish quota, which saves fishermen $150,000 and generates $1.5 million ex-vessel revenue, according to the group.
The impact of climate change on the industry is also a focus.
“There’s a lot of change coming to our oceans and our environment,” Fernandes said, “and just being nimble and adaptive for generations to come on how we respond to that as a region, as an industry, to make sure future generations can be part of it, is a huge deal.”
“We’re hyper-focused on the next generation, we’re hyper-focused on breaking down barriers for entry…in spite of the challenges everyone on the Cape is facing,” added Pappalardo. “We’re not just focused on fishing regulations,” although that is a major aspect of the organization’s work.
“At the core, that’s the biggest thing the organization does,” he said. “It translates what’s happening in the meeting rooms back to the community, and then has the community, the fishermen, tell us what a sensible solution would be.”
Almost 2,000 commercial fishermen live and work on the Cape, generating more than $73 million worth of landings annually, Fernandes said. The industry supports thousands of other wholesale, retain and blue economy jobs, he said.
“We’re really focused on the economic impact of the commercial fishing industry, and not just offshore, but the inshore fisheries as well,” said Pappalardo.
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