Gluesenkamp Perez, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Safety, Mental Health Resources in Fishing Industry

Mar 12, 2024

Today, Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03), along with Reps. Jared Golden (ME-02), Mary Peltola (AK-AL), Mike Ezell (MS-04), and Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02), introduced the Fishing Industry Safety, Health, and Wellness Improvement (FISH Wellness) Act. The bill would increase access to health and safety services for commercial fishermen, and would be particularly focused on addressing substance use disorders and mental health challenges, which remain a serious problem across the industry.

The Fish Wellness Act would expand existing programs for safety training in the commercial fishing industry to include a more comprehensive range of common physical and behavioral challenges, such as worker fatigue, substance use disorders, and mental health challenges. Factors such as unpredictable hours, isolation, financial uncertainty and more contribute to “high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues among fishermen.”

“Fishing is a tough, high-risk career putting food on America’s tables, and these skilled men and women deserve our respect. Their jobs support our lives, and our job is to support them in accessing the resources they need to stay safe at work,” said Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez. “This bipartisan legislation would help Southwest Washington fishermen access safety and mental health resources to deal with the fatigue and stress associated with their work.”

“Maine fishermen have a dangerous job, and it’s vital they have the support they need to stay safe,” said Rep. Golden. “Keeping the industry sustainable is about more than the size of the catch – it’s also about keeping these Maine fishermen going, physically and mentally. I’m proud to help lead the effort to address an issue that’s crucial for so many of the men and women on our working waterfront.”

“Fishing is the backbone of Alaska’s economy,” said Rep. Peltola. “Commercial fishing has ranked as the most dangerous job in the nation for decades, with workers facing unpredictable weather, long workdays, and the unique dangers of working on the open ocean. I am proud to co-lead the FISH Wellness Act to help support fishermen with job training and other resources that will strengthen fishing communities and protect commercial fishermen as they work to provide us with sustainable, wild-caught seafood.”

“Fishermen play a massive role in feeding America and helping our coastal economies thrive, and we must continue to support them as they take on a difficult and often dangerous job,” said Rep. Ezell. “I’m proud to partner with Congressman Golden on the FISH Wellness Act to help keep America’s fishermen safer and healthier.”

“Our fishermen play a pivotal role in feeding our nation, and they often do so in hazardous and unpredictable conditions,” said Rep. Van Drew. “This bill is a critically important investment in the mental and physical wellbeing of our fishermen and the maritime community as a whole.”

A version of the Fish Wellness Act has also been introduced in the Senate.
Full text of the legislation is available here.

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