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Coalition praises Congress for including USD 300 million for America’s fishermen in COVID-19 stimulus package

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020, 00:00 (GMT + 9)


The Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC) — representing more than 1,000 small-boat, independent fishermen and business owners from Maine to Alaska — praised Congress today for including USD 300 million for America’s seafood industry in the COVID-19 stimulus package.

Associated members of the Fishing Communities Coalition

The news of this package offers substantial relief to America’s commercial fishermen, fishing communities and related businesses at a time when the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic -- shuttered restaurants, institutional food services, and foreign and domestic wholesale and retail markets -- have rippled through the seafood industry and the country at large. Prices and demand have dropped dramatically for fresh seafood, putting community-based fishermen and seafood businesses in serious jeopardy. This is an emergency situation, and the need for immediate economic stimulus is real. The FCC hopes this relief will quickly make its way to those whose livelihoods depend on commercial fishing in a meaningful and effective way.

There are still many unknowns related to this package, including the mechanisms for how and when funds will be dispersed, and who will receive funding. Additionally, as this pandemic stretches into the summer months, increased relief will become necessary. As such, the FCC remains committed to fighting for our fishermen, their families, and communities.

Statements from Member Organizations
“In the first draft of this relief package, the seafood industry was left out of the equation. The needs of fishermen are very different from other types of businesses. We are incredibly grateful to the Maine delegation for fighting to make sure that fishermen’s needs were heard and addressed during this economic disaster.” Ben Martens, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association

“Our Congressional delegation understands how important the commercial fishing industry is to the health, as well as the economic and social fabric, of our communities and the Commonwealth. They have been weighing in at multiple levels of the federal process, staying in close contact with us, and we are appreciative and gratefulfor their efforts.  Together, with their help, we'll weather this.” John Pappalardo, Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance

“The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders' Alliance applauds the bi-partisan efforts of our senators to help commercial fishermen in the Gulf and across the U.S. Commercial fishing and fishing businesses are vital to the U.S. economy. We especially appreciate the work of the leadership and members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Senate Commerce Committee.  Wild, domestic Gulf of Mexico grouper and snapper are found on menus and dinner plates throughout the country, but with restricted supply chain access, an overwhelming majority of these fishermen are tied to the dock with no end in sight. The actions by the Senate last night are an important first step to helping this industry stay afloat in this unprecedented situation.” Eric Brazer, Deputy Director, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders' Alliance

“Alaska is powered by seafood," said Linda Behnken, director of Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association.  "Commercial fishing is the largest private-sector employer in the state and the only employer in most rural Alaska communities.  The pandemic will hit our economy and small businesses hard. We deeply appreciate the work of the Alaska delegation and others in Congress to help our industry and coastal communities weather this storm."

“The value of seafood enriches more than our local, state and national economies: Our wild food systems are the bedrock of holistic wellness in Alaska. Harvest livelihoods offer meaningful opportunities for people to provide for their families and rural communities, many of which rely entirely on marine resources to survive. In this time of incredible uncertainty, it is local food producers who have a unique ability to inspire confidence and offer sustenance to people in dire need of both. Our small-boat fishermen need swift, concerted relief so they can continue to provide for the nation.” - Marissa Wilson, Alaska Marine Conservation Council



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