Strategies for Combating the "Graying of the Fleet"

2022 SOST Opportunities and Actions Roundtable

Summary: The lack of succession in the US commerical fishing industry has led to a nationwide shortage of Captains in the small/medium-sized boat commercial fisheries, particularly in our New England working waterfronts. Historically, fishing privelages and vessels have been passed down through generations among families in our various marine fisheries for over 400 years in New England.

The average age of a New England groundfish and lobster Captain is currently over 55 years of age. This statistic, coupled with the nationwide phenomena called the "graying of the fleet" has resulted in a drastic change in demographics within our small/medium-sized boats participating in the commercial fishing industry. This is partly due to species diversification as a direct result of climate change, increasing regulatory measures and a dramatic change in the allocation of groundfish quota under the 2010 implementation of the Catch Share System. But it is also directly related to an unattainable amount of capital currently required for an entry level Captain of a small/medium-sized boat to enter a fishery. This capital includes the purchase of a boat, a federal and/or state fishing permit, equipment and gear, insurances, docking fees and more.

As a means to provide support for young commercial fishermen and women who qualify as entry level federal permit holders, while simultaneously upholding projected strategical objectives to "maximize the sustainable yield of US wild caught fisheries"; I strongly propose that the SOST consider recommendations on implementing a subsidy for first time federal permit holders in both the commercial groundfish and lobster permit holder category by June of 2023!

Sector: Industry
Organization: New England Young Fishermen's Alliance (NEYFA)
POC: Andrea Tomlinson,