GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- Long splintered into small groups, commercial fishermen are forming a national organization to promote their image, and to press their interests before Congress.
The new group, the Commercial Fishermen of America announced its formation in the middle of November in Seattle. The organization hopes to be operational by next spring.
''Given that politics is just becoming ever more omnipresent and unavoidable, we felt it was high time we got organized to represent the interests of all fishermen," said Jeremy Brown, a salmon and albacore troller from Bellingham, Wash., who is on the organizing committee.
Until now, one of the main fishing advocacy groups in Washington, D.C., has been the National Fisheries Institute.
That group generally represents seafood processors, restaurants, and distributors, rather than fishermen themselves.
But Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, said the group does not adequately represent the fishermen.
''Their concerns are very different from those of the fishermen, in some instances 180 degrees apart," he said.
A national organization, the Seafood Coalition, represents fishermen and processors, said Pete Leipzig, executive director of the Fishermen's Marketing Association in Eureka, Calif.
However, the new group would focus on fisherman's issues. National issues facing commercial fishermen include reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act, a law governing fisheries management.