Bill Aiming to Bring Tax Parity to Meals Provided to Fish Processing Workers Introduced
Urner Barry by Ryan Doyle - February 5, 2021
Representatives Suzan DelBene and Don Young introduced a bill looking to bring tax parity to meals provided to workers on certain fish processing vessels and remote fish processing facilities.
According to DelBene’s office, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced tax deduction for employer-provided meals to 50%, with eliminates the deduction altogether after 2025. The law does allow for 100% deductibility for meals when they are required by federal law but that does not apply to the fishing industry.
Still, Congress retained full deductibility for workers’ meals on offshore oil and gas platforms, which the representatives feel shows a “lack of parity” between the fishing and offshore oil/gas industries.
The representatives argue that the lack of deductibility has adversely harmed fish processors in Washington and Alaska who must still provide meals to workers.
“The 2017 tax law had many unintended consequences and particularly harmed the fishing industry in Washington and Alaska,” said DelBene. “Our proposal would fulfill Congress’ original intent of curbing inappropriate meal expense deductions while preserving it for industries that have no other source for their workers’ meals.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every sector of our economy, including our fishermen and seafood processors," said Young. "Our fishermen and processing vessels work long, often dangerous hours to bring Alaskan seafood to market, and they often receive employer-provided meals onboard to help sustain them on the job. Unfortunately, only 50% of these meals are tax-deductible, negatively impacting our seafood industry’s ability to compete. I am proud to introduce the Remote Seafood Employee Meals Tax Parity Act with Congresswoman Suzan DelBene to help support our fishing industry in this time of great need. We must get this bill across the finish line, and I will continue fighting hard on behalf of Alaska's commercial fishermen.”
“Providing meals for thousands of seafood industry workers at sea and in remote Alaskan communities is a mission-critical expense. Health protocols, including quarantines, designed to keep our workers and communities safe, make these employer-provided meals even more critical in the COVID-19 era. On behalf of our members, I applaud Congresswoman DelBene and Congressman Young for leading this bill to correct this unintended consequence of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and we look forward to the 117th Congress restoring fairness to this aspect of our nation’s tax code,” said Chris Barrows, President, Pacific Seafood Processors Association.
Foundation Seeks California Crabbers to Participate in Gear Trials to Minimize Entanglements
SeafoodNews.com by Susan Chambers - February 5, 2021
In an effort to minimize whale entanglements with Dungeness crab gear, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is teaming up with fishermen and state and federal agencies to field test some new products.
Entanglements typically occur when whales come into contact with buoy lines that connect to fishing gear on the seafloor, such as crab pots. The Foundation said that in 2018, more than 80% of confirmed entanglement cases involved gear used in fishing, and half could be directly attributed to a specific fishery.
The Foundation is seeking crabbers to take part in gear innovation trials during the current Dungeness season. The first phase of testing will test four pop-up fishing systems and a low-tech breakaway rope design. These specific innovations were selected based upon recommendations from the Working Group, previous gear demonstrations conducted in September 2019, and the availability of manufactured prototypes during the current crab season. These trials will include:
a) galvanic timed releases that minimize the time buoy lines are in the water column;
b) on-demand acoustic pop-up systems that remove buoy lines from the water column; and
c) breakaway sleeves designed to break apart under enough force.
Fishermen will be provided with test equipment, given training and support, and receive a stipend for participating in the research.
Results will help inform additional testing with a broader range of participants in Phase II of this project planned for 2022.
"By working closely with fishermen, we hope to gain invaluable information, feedback and ideas on the experimental gears to inform continued development and testing of gear innovations planned for next year," the Foundation said in a press release.
Those interested in participating or for more information on the project should contact Greg Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org or (949) 630-6951. The Foundation is currently recruiting for the first round of testing but will consider additional participants on an ongoing basis.
This project is being carried out in collaboration with the California Ocean Protection Council and California Department of Fish and Wildlife with input from multiple partners and technical experts including NOAA Fisheries, NOAA West Coast Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group.
More information about the project can be found on the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation's project webpage.
Crabbers in Northern Oregon to Finally Get a Season to Match Washington
SeafoodNews.com by Susan Chambers - February 9, 2021
Hold on to your Xtratufs: It appears the Washington Dungeness crab season is going to open this month, in conjunction with the Oregon season north of Cape Falcon.
But there's a catch: Domoic acid tests have shown the biotoxin in some Washington areas have not decreased, so Washington crab from part of the state will have to be eviscerated. All crab from Oregon remain clear.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fishery managers, after consulting with Tri-State managers and the Oregon Department of Agriculture on Friday, notified fleets and processors the season would open on Tuesday, Feb. 16, north of Cape Falcon in Oregon.
The season start will open the last crab harvest area in Oregon that has remained closed, area 50-A, in coordination with Washington’s coastal state crab fishery from the Canadian border to the Washington/Oregon border. However, as of Monday afternoon, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife had not posted any industry notice of the season opening.
Fishermen and some processors originally wanted to keep the northernmost area of Oregon closed as "buffer" zone to Washington, in case domoic acid levels drifted down to Oregon areas. It would also give dual-permitted vessels (Washington and Oregon) the opportunity to fish their gear on both sides of the state line when the season eventually opened.
In December and January, most everyone agreed. It made sense. But as the season wore on and their colleagues to the south started hauling in loads of crab, Washington crabbers and a number of Oregon fishermen stayed in port, waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
Now it's February and some processors are getting weary of having crab pots stacked all over. For some, it will soon be time to switch to pink shrimp and bring in more groundfish. That's hard to do with crab processing equipment set up and gear taking up prime real estate on the dock and on land.
Washington industry and state agencies worked the last few weeks to find a way to allow both Washington and Oregon enforce evisceration protocols and comply with traceability standards. Oregon rules already allow for that; Washington needed to pull something together much more quickly.
The end result, from Oregon industry notices, for area 50-A and, presumably, Washington as well:
73-hour presoak/setting gear: 8 a.m., Saturday, February 13
Hold inspections: Monday, February 15
Start date/pulling gear: 9 a.m. Tuesday, February 16
But processing and tracking the crab may get a bit tricky. The Oregon notices indicate Washington areas south of Point Chehalis near Westport to the state border with Oregon will open under evisceration requirements. The Oregon industry notice details those requirements for landing crab into either Washington or Oregon ports. https://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/shellfish/commercial/crab/docs/2021/IndustryNoticeCFalconNorthOpener_020821.pdf .
Aramark says no to GE salmon
Cordova Times - February 5, 2021
Pressure is mounting against the sale of genetically modified salmon from AquaBounty Technologies, which is poised to sell its first ever harvest of the fish in domestic markets in the first quarter of 2021.
Canada blocks cruise ships for a year, ending Alaska trips
APNews - February 5, 2021
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Canadian government has extended a ban on cruise ships through February 2022, which is expected to block many ships from visiting Alaska this year.
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