Courtesy of NAA:
The Don Young Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022 was included as part of the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023. The NDAA has passed Congress and moves to President Biden for signature. This is no inconsequential news item, please read on…
The Coast Guard bill was named in honor of Representative Don Young, Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure from 2001 to 2007, a longtime member of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation and good friend to the US shellfish farming community. Sadly, Congressman Young passed away in March 2022.
Prior to his passing, Congressman Young included in the Coast Guard legislation Section 11520, Limitation on Recovery for Certain Injuries Incurred in Aquaculture Activities. This oddly named section corrects a wrong and significant liability for marine aquaculture.
In 1986 aquaculture workers were exempted from the Longshoreman’s and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act but not the Merchant Marine Act. A little-known section of the Merchant Marine Act protects injured seamen on U.S. owned/operated vessels who cannot be covered by state workers’ compensation insurance because they work on the high seas, often traveling between states or internationally. The injured seamen provision in the Act significantly inflates insurance costs and exposes farms to, potentially, unlimited liability. Aquaculture was not widely practiced when the Act was passed.
The Don Young Coast Guard Authorization Act provides:
The East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, Pacific Shellfish Growers Association and the National Aquaculture Association have been walking the halls of Congress to achieve legislation exempting marine aquaculture from the Merchant Marine Act, gaining the support of Congressman Young (tip of the hat to Bob Rheault and Margaret Pilaro who met with Congressman Young in 2018) and relentlessly birddogging this issue.
If you are interested in what all the celebration is about throughout US marine aquaculture, scroll to page 4345 in the NDAA legislation which can be found here.