Archive for » December 4th, 2017«

Fresh off the boat: Pilot sales project officially starts at the Port of San Francisco

San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf has long been one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions, and now visitors have a chance to buy something other than a souvenir during their trip.

Pioneer Seafoods began selling fish straight off its boat late last month. It’s part of a year-long pilot project the Port of San Francisco approved in September. So far, Giuseppe Pennisi’s boat is the only one who has a permit, Michael Nerney, the port’s marketing director, told SeafoodSource.

It marks the first time the port has allowed sales from its berths since 2000. According to city officials, the pilot program fits in with the port’s five-year strategic plan of engaging visitors and attracting more business there.

Allowing commercial fishermen to sell off their boats is a practice that’s been in place at other California harbors, including Half Moon Bay and Bodega Bay.

“The fish harvested by local commercial fishers is a wild, public resource, and San Franciscans have a right to these fish,” said Elaine Forbes, the port’s executive director, in a memo to the Port Commission. “Allowing retail fish sales will give fishers the opportunity to adapt to new markets and remain financially viable, especially in light of the historically low salmon catch the past two years, and the domoic acid crab closure in 2016.”

Some, though, have reservations about the port’s project. Earlier this year, the West Coast Seafood Processors Association sent a letter to port officials expressing its concerns about worker and consumer safety issues from allowing sales on the docks. 

The association also has concerns about reporting accurate fish counts.

“Unfortunately, direct retail sale of live Pacific groundfish has resulted in considerable underreporting,” said Lori Steele, the association’s executive director, in the letter. “This places the conservation burden on the backs of those honest fishermen and processors who accurately report their landings. Furthermore, it ultimately affects everyone in the seafood industry and in coastal communities by requiring precautionary reductions in harvest.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Pennisi sold about 230 pounds of fish during his first weekend of sales. Pioneer will use Facebook to announce the dates and times when it will be berthed and selling.

Earlier this year, Pennisi launched a “floating fish market” in partnership with Scoma’s, a seafood restaurant, in an effort to sell more fish domestically.

“I just can’t believe that here I can’t get my own fish across the dock to a local place,” he said. “But you can get it across the dock and freeze it and ship it halfway around the world. It makes no sense.”


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US Senate passes sweeping tax legislation

The Senate passed their version of tax reform legislation during the early morning hours of Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, by a vote of 51-49.

This comes on the heels of the House passing a tax reform package last month. Both chambers will now come together and work out the differences between the two pieces of legislation in order to get a final product to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

Some of the highlights in the Senate version of the tax reform legislation include: 

Business Tax Highlights

NMMA’s goal is to see a decrease from the top corporate rate of 35 percent to a flat rate of 20 percent. Both the House and Senate bills have a 20 percent flat rate. However, under the Senate proposal, this shift would occur in 2019, rather than 2018.

Pass-Through Businesses

Pass-through business refers to how individual owners of a business pay taxes on income derived from that business on their personal income tax returns. Pass-through taxation applies to sole proprietorships, partnerships, and s-corporations. Many small businesses approach taxes as a pass-through business. NMMA supported an across-the-board rate reduction to 25 percent. Currently, pass-through businesses see a top marginal rate of 39.6 percent. 

Under the final Senate bill, taxpayers would generally be able to deduct 23 percent of domestic qualified business income from a partnership, s-corporation, or sole proprietorship.

There was significant pushback and lobbying from the small business community, and the deduction was raised to 23 percent from an earlier proposal of 17.4 percent.

Individual Tax Highlights

NMMA has asked for three tax income brackets: 12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent. The final Senate version has seven brackets, while also changing the rates on taxable income to:

10 percent (income up to $9,525 for individuals; up to $19,050 for married couples filing jointly), 12 percent (over $9,525 to $38,700; over $19,050 to $77,400 for couples), 22 percent (over $38,700 to $70,000; over $77,400 to $140,000 for couples), 24 percent (over $70,000 to $160,000; over $140,000 to $320,000 for couples), 32 percent (over $160,000 to $200,000; over $320,000 to $400,000 for couples), 35 percent (over $200,000 to $500,000; over $400,000 to $1 million for couples), 38.5 percent (over $500,000; over $1 million for couples).

Luxury Tax

There is no new luxury tax on new boat sales in the Senate bill.

Second Home Mortgage Interest Deduction

The Senate version would eliminate the home equity deduction, but would not alter the rest of the deduction—including its application to second homes, boats, and RVs.

Estate Tax

The Senate bill doesn’t eliminate the estate tax but instead would simply double the exemption.

NMMA’s federal affairs team will continue to be engaged with negotiations as they continue and will provide further updates to members. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact NMMA’s Director of Federal Government Affairs, Mike Pasko, at mpasko@nmma.org.



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Boat line opens temporary Woods Hole ticket office

WOODS HOLE – The Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority is moving its ticket-selling operations to a new building today as part of its $60 million terminal reconstruction project.

The $2.6 million temporary building at the Woods Hole ferry terminal will house a ticket-selling office, office space for the terminal manager and assistant terminal manager, a lobby, public restrooms, a concession area and data and communication equipment, according to a statement. The building will sell tickets for Martha’s Vineyard-bound ferries until the new terminal is completed later in the six-year project.

The new ticket office was built by Triumph Modular Inc., of Littleton, and located adjacent to Railroad Avenue. The 3,600-square-foot, single-story modular building is sided in a vinyl wrap replicating the Vineyard Sound nautical chart, according to the statement.

The Steamship Authority will take six years to reconstruct the three boat slips and the terminal building at its Woods Hole port. The temporary terminal building and a new $12.7 million headquarters at its Palmer Avenue parking lot will replace the boat line’s current terminal and quarters, which is due to be demolished early next year.

The waiting area in the existing terminal building will be open as an additional waiting area for customers until the middle of January, according to the statement. The ferry line’s office personnel plan to move into the new headquarters after the building is completed next month. 

The Steamship Authority board will hold a special meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday at its Woods Hole terminal building to vote on a contract for phases 2 through 4 of the waterside work for the project. The demolition of the current terminal, originally scheduled for this year, has been delayed due to a setback in completing the new administration building.

The Steamship Authority is planning to build the terminal and new boat slips in the off-seasons to minimize the disruption during the high-traffic summers.

– Follow Sean F. Driscoll on Twitter: @seanfdriscoll.

 


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The Great Outdoors: Missing the mark on menhaden strategy

Rather than adopting a new management plan that focused on the importance of menhaden to their ecosystem, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Menhaden Management Board voted to stick with the status quo.

Leading up to the vote, public sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of updating the strategy. More than 150,000 anglers and other conservationists submitted public comments in favor of accounting for menhaden’s unique ecological role as a forage fish.

“The decision by ASMFC to continue the status quo management of menhaden, despite over 99 percent of all public comments supporting a change, is disappointing, to say the least,” said Mike Leonard, conservation director at the American Sportfishing Association. “There is a broad recognition that menhaden need to be managed in a way that accounts for their benefits to the ecosystem, including as a significant portion of the diets of many sportfish populations.

“It’s extremely unfortunate that anglers must continue to wait and hope that someday soon ASMFC will shift its management philosophy when it comes to menhaden.”

Not only are menhaden a key food source for sportfish species like striped bass, bluefish, red drum, king mackerel and cobia, but nearly every predatory fish, mammal and bird eats them at some point in their life cycle. That’s a big part of the reason why so many argued they shouldn’t be managed as a single species.

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Most fishermen are content to continue using the same rods, reels, line, hooks and baits since their dad taught them years ago.

If they catch fish, it’s, “Thanks Dad,” and they come home happy.

If they aren’t catching fish, they will blame it on the weather, water, sunshine, clouds, wind or bait, but never on their equipment or themselves..

Well, in the old days that would have been perfectly OK. But not in today’s market, what will all the new baits, lines, rods and reels that are available to them.

When bass fishermen slide their boat into the water, they will have as many as 20 rods/reels in the boat along with enough hard and soft baits to last a lifetime.

I carry 15 rods/reels in my boat, a ton of baits and enough hooks to stretch from Eliot to Augusta. That might be a stretch, but I mean it when I say that I have enough equipment to last until I’m too old and feeble to cast a line!

I know that sounds stupid but if you have the money, time and energy, why not carry enough rods so that you can pick up an another rod that has a different lure on it or another color or size?

if a fish sees something different he will attack it to keep it out of his territory. Plus it saves time so you will always have your bait in the water.

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You know, it’s no wonder folks living south of the Mason-Dixon line view ice fishermen as being nuts. It’s a sport that many once called moronic.

Who in their right mind, after all, would stare through a hole in the ice for eight hours straight, or drive a full-size truck onto a frozen lake? Or risk frostbite for a fish bite?

The answer, according to data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is well over 2 million people — that’s who.

In 2006, outdoors folks spent about $105 million on ice fishing tackle and equipment, a figure that had ballooned to $178 million by 2011 and is expected to easily exceed $200 million when the 2016 data is unveiled. That’s nearly a 100-percent expansion in sales of ice fishing gear in a single decade.

So why all the excitement for a sport that’s conducted in the cold? For one, becoming a first-time ice angler is simple and relatively affordable, even for families. And even while innovation among other segments of the sportfishing industry, in some cases, has plagued it, creativity in new ice fishing tackle and equipment continues soaring to new levels of awesome.

Stroll the jam-packed aisles at events such as the St. Paul or Milwaukee ice fishing shows and you meet as many young anglers as you do hardwater veterans. Each and every one of these folks flock to the show floor for the same simple reason: to see the new stuff — amazing lures, rods, electronics, apparel, shelters and other equipment that promises to make their time on the ice more exciting, comfortable and efficient.

Wayne Hooper is a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association and a lifelong Seacoast resident. He can be reached at sports@seacoastonline.com.

 

 


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