September 1, 2022 (Denise Coffey, Cape Cod Times) — Stephanie Sykes recently wrapped up a grant proposal aimed at getting young men and women into the fishing industry. The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance proposal is in partnership with the MIT Sea Grant program. The grant would fund the development of a curriculum for a fishermen’s training program.
Sykes is an outreach and program coordinator with the alliance. She also works as a deckhand on the F/V Peggy B II, fishing for conch and black sea bass. She talks to a lot of people in the industry, whether they fish for lobster, scallops or finfish. Many need help on their boats.
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There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon: the Young Fishermen’s Development Act, passed in 2021. A Senate appropriations subcommittee approved $2 million for funding the first of its kind — a national workforce development program — for fiscal 2023. The funding will provide the next generation of fishermen the tools they need to work safely and productively, and keep working waterfronts and coastal communities vital.
The goal is not only to recruit and train, but retain as well. Members must be supported with business planning, technical support, guidance on regulations and permits, and advocacy on fisheries policy and regulations, Sykes said.
The grant she is working on in partnership with MIT Sea Grant is part of the push to get ready for the Young Fishermen’s Development Act when its funding is expected to be approved this fall.