March 24, 2020
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Steve T. Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury
George E. Perdue III, Secretary of Agriculture
Wilbur R. Ross, Secretary of Commerce
Re: Domestic Seafood Infrastructure
Dear President Trump:
We write as participants in America’s seafood supply chain, a critical component of the country’s
domestic food infrastructure and one of the major economic drivers in our country’s coastal communities
Empty restaurants, cafes, and dining halls are a visible reminder of the ongoing, unprecedented
public health efforts to blunt the spread of COVID-19. The livelihoods of the chefs, cooks, servers, and
other staff are obvious and direct casualties of those government efforts. The economic disruption caused
by forced restaurant closures and active encouragement for Americans to “shelter in place,” however,
extend far beyond the food service sector.
There is a direct line from those temporarily shuttered businesses to the food distribution chain that
supports them; the companies and workers who harvest, farm, prepare, process, package, and distribute the
food products that we produce in our country. The Department of Homeland Security rightly recognized
in its March 19 memorandum that seafood workers are “essential critical infrastructure workers” that
warrant prioritization in government support to help protect and maintain our role in food security.
In the case of seafood, more than two-thirds (68%) of the $102.2 billion that consumers paid for
U.S. fishery products in 2017 was spent at food service establishments (as opposed to home consumption).
As a result, in many fisheries, the sudden near shutdown of restaurants and other storefronts has caused
demand to evaporate overnight, threatening the continued economic viability of the entire supply chain.
This could mean the loss of tens of thousands of well-paying jobs. In those fisheries where demand remains
intact, the greatest ongoing challenge will be to make sure employers have state and local support for
undergoing testing, screening, and potential quarantine protocols needed to ensure a healthy
workforce. Without workers, healthy and sustainable fisheries would produce only a fraction of their
potential. Congress and the Administration must work with state and local governments in that regard.
As you have heard from other industries, supply chains cannot be turned on and off like a light
switch. Once lost, a supply chain and the infrastructure that supports it can be exceptionally difficult and
costly to restart. Failure to act boldly now to preserve our country’s domestic seafood infrastructure will
impose far greater costs on our economy and cause permanent damage to our nation’s ability to harvest,
farm, process, and distribute seafood products.
Though we write specifically on behalf of our country’s seafood infrastructure, we expect that the
bold actions we are suggesting would help stave off disaster for food supply industries as a whole. Our
domestic food distribution network produces nearly $700 billion in revenue annually, and employs nearly
1.5 million workers. The value of specialty crops annually is about $65 billion, and the value of processed
fish products is about $12 billion annually. Food manufacturing tends to have relatively high payments to
salaries and benefits compared with other food sector industries, with salaries and benefits accounting for
half of the value added in food manufacturing.
Bipartisan efforts to keep Americans safe from COVID-19 and to deliver much-needed assistance
to the most vulnerable among us are absolutely appropriate. We applaud efforts of Congress and the
Administration to extend unemployment insurance and to address the needs of seniors, children, and other
vulnerable Americans. However, with an uncertain timeline ahead of us in this crisis, we must also take
additional bold action to preserve the operating liquidity of the food production employers who provide and
support domestic food infrastructure and the millions of jobs it supports. Failure to do so risks
unprecedented decline in essential economic activity that will severely affect both workers and our nation’s
ability to continue feeding itself.
The below measures would help to mitigate the impacts of the public health response to COVID-
19 and maintain our critical industry. To be clear, suggested dollars amounts should be considered a starting
point to address the still unknown impacts of this evolving crisis:
1. Ensure USDA’s Section 32 funding levels are maintained (regardless of whether tariff
revenues are diminished) and expand to include an additional appropriation of at least $2.0
billion for Section 32 activities that directly support the supply chain of domestically
produced seafood to end consumers. This existing mechanism could keep workers employed,
supply chains operating, employers open, and nutritional needs met. The program provides for the
government purchase of food for consumers, starting with kids and vulnerable families. For over
80 years, the Section 32 program has provided assistance to food products, the production and
distribution of which is generally not supported by larger price support programs.
We also request that you consider expediting purchases by temporarily suspending federal
contracting rules and regulations so as to facilitate immediate assistance to a broader cross section
of U.S. businesses, free from bureaucratic red tape that might otherwise delay relief.
2. Provide an initial $1.5 billion to the Department of Commerce to provide direct relief for
fishery disasters caused by Federal, State, and Local government responses to COVID-19.
Sections 312(a) and 315 of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act
(MSA) and the Sections 308(b) and 308(d) Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act (IFJ) empower the
Secretary of Commerce to provide multiple forms of relief to businesses and fishing communities
impacted by certain harms—including natural and man-made causes. We request that you work
with Congress to appropriate and make funding available as soon as practicable to fishery and
seafood businesses uniquely impacted by closure of restaurant and food service industries, and
specifically designate the spread and impact of COVID-19 as a natural and man-made cause
eligible for fishery disaster assistance. To ensure funding can be distributed quickly, we also
request that you waive certain requirements under MSA and IFJ for this funding, so that injured
businesses can quickly access needed aid. Please also immediately release all previously
appropriated disaster relief funds so as to inject direct liquidity to coastal employers.
3. Appropriate a minimum of $500 million for the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with
the Department of Agriculture, to purchase surplus commercial seafood that can be shipped
overseas or supplied to domestic organizations. These organizations could include assisted
living communities, hospitals, as well as State and Local government programs, among others.
Facilitating direct government purchase of products that have gone unsold due to the government’s
unprecedented response to the COVID-19 crisis would both ensure stability in this key sector and
provide healthy proteins for Americans.
Thank you for your attention to these well-intended policy recommendations. We will continue to
offer suggestions to promote economic security and stability for America’s food production infrastructure
as the current health situation abates. Commercial fishing and seafood interests are highly diverse between
regions, so additional assistance may be needed to address near-term critical needs for some parts of the
seafood value chain.
Please do not hesitate to contact the signatories below if we can be of additional assistance in our
nation’s effort to combat this crisis, while preserving the essential infrastructure that underlies our economy.
Anthony J. Dal Ponte
Pacific Seafood Group
National Aquaculture Association
National Fisheries Institute
Pacific Seafood Processors Assoc.
VP Sustainability & Gov. Affairs
High Liner Foods
Sean J. O’Scannlain
President & CEO
Roger A. O’Brien
President & CEO
Santa Monica Seafood
Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers
Director of Corp. Business Alignment
W. Ron Allen
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe
Seafood Harvesters of America
California Sea Urchin Commission
Native Trust LLC
Alaska General Seafoods
All Seas Wholesale
Alyeska Seafoods, Inc.
Chairman of the Board
Atlantic Capes Fisheries
Executive Vice President
President & CEO
California Shellfish Co., Inc.
Cape Canaveral Shrimp Company
Cascade Organics LLC
Da Yang Seafood
Del Mar Seafoods
Englund Marine & Supply
John C. Young
Euclid Fish Company
Vice President – Owner
Fisherman’s Ideal Supply House
President & CEO
Golden Alaska Seafoods, LLC
Jonathan P Davis
Hood Canal Mariculture, Inc.
Director of Sustainability
OC Wild Seafood
Oregon’s Choice Gourmet
Pacific Dream Seafoods, Inc.
Pacific Rim Seafood, LLC
Scott A. Johnson
PanaPesca USA Inc.
Barry D. Collier
President & CEO
Peter Pan Seafoods, Inc.
F. Joseph Bersch III
President of General Partner
Phoenix Processor Limited
Resiliensea Group LLC
Safe Harbor Seafood
Seafreeze Ltd. and Seafreeze
President & CEO
Seattle Fish Company
James D. Busse
Seafood Atlantic Inc.
VP of Business Performance
The Fish Company – Miami
Heather S. Donnell
Ventura Harbor Marina & Yacht Yard
Chief Executive Officer
Wanchese Fish Company
Westward Seafoods, Inc.
Vincent Bryan III
Whooshh Innovations, Inc.
Wild Ocean Seafood
Jonathan P Davis
Baywater Shellfish Farms
Blue Ocean Mariculture
Cascade Aqua Farms
Catalina Offshore Products
Kyle Lentz & Shina Wysocki
President & Vice President
Chief Operating Officer
Cooke Aquaculture USA
Kathleen Nisbet Moncy
Goose Point Oysters/Nisbet Oyster Co
Hawaiian Shellfish LLC
J J Brenner Oyster Company
Tammy & Doug Devlin
Manna Fish Farms, Inc
Oregon Oyster Farms, Inc.
Prestige Oysters Inc.
Taylor Shellfish Farms
HC Snal, LLC
Alaska Trollers Association
Alliance of Comm. for Sustainable
Interim Executive Director
Alaska Marine Conservation Council
California Coast Crab Association
California King Salmon Council
CA Wetfish Producers Association
Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s
Commercial Fishermen of
Robert D. Alverson
Fishing Vessel Owners Association
Freezer Longline Coalition
Long Island Commercial Fishing
Midwater Trawlers Cooperative
Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s
Captain Bob Zales II
National Association of Charterboat
Oregon Trawl Commission
Pacific Coast Fed of Fishing Assoc
Southeastern Fisheries Association
Captain Bob Zales II
Southern Offshore Fishing Assoc
Under Sixty Cod Harvesters
United Catcher Boats
West Coast Fisheries Consultants
West Coast Seafood Processors Assoc
Northwest Aquaculture Alliance
Maine Aquaculture Association
Margaret A. Pilaro
Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Assoc
Jamestown Point Whitney Shellfish
Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation &
Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust
Morro Bay Community Quota Fund
CEO & Port Director
The Port of Hueneme
Santa Cruz Port District
Restaurant & Market
Arcadia Point Seafood B.P fishing Inc.
Michael J Wagner
Vicki & Steve Wilson
Cape Cod Commercial
Capt. Mike’s Seafood
Cascade Aqua Farms
Colosse Inc. Denotta Seafood Co
Mayor – City of Destin, Florida
Drayton Harbor Oyster
Elston’s Clam & Oyster
L. Michael Elston
Florida Quality Seafood
Frost Fisheries, LLC
Grassy Bar Oyster
Gulf Fresh Inc.
Harbor Pride Seafood
Kamilche Sea Farms
Jeremy A. Streig
Long Fisheries Inc. Lutz Seafood Inc.
Main Vain Charters
Mickeys Wild Chinook
Oceanside Bait Co.
Ocean Run Seafoods
Carol Takacs Ritter
Oregon’s Local Coast
P.M Fishing inc. ProFish International
Rocky Bay Seafoods
Rhode Island Fishermen’s Alliance
Nicole E. Neeman Brady
Managing Principal & COO
Rogue King Seafood Salty Dog Seafood
Co-Owner of Seafood Market
San Diego Bay
Aquaculture & Acacia
Sea Spirit Shenanegan Seafood
Rebecca Richards & Norm Abell
The Builders Initiative
Watson Fishery Inc.
Senior Program Officer
Westport Cold Inc.
Westport Seafood Inc.
John C. Galvich
Winter Rose Inc.
1. Eric Fosmark F/V Vinland California
2. Scott Fosmark F/V Yaznak/Queen Corrine California
3. Sal Mineo F/V Mineo Bros. California
4. Tim Obert F/V Stacey Jo/Misty Dawn California
5. Giovanni Pennisi F/V Irene’s Way/Elaine California
6. Joshua McCoy F/V Top Tuna Florida
7. Jay Lucas F/V Casey ‘s Pride Florida
8. Harry Allen F/V Shenanegan Oregon
9. John Alto F/V Spring Persuader Oregon
10. Frank Akers F/V LANOLA Oregon
11. Bryan Craig F/V C-RAE Oregon
12. Anthony Cummings F/V P.C. Hooker Oregon
13. Henry DeRonden F/V Newdawn Oregon
14. Nick Diede F/V Coolchange II Oregon
15. Carl Duwell F/V Sea Spirit Oregon
16. Gene Fisher F/V Two Fishers Oregon
17. Joseph Fiske F/V Sharon Joe Oregon
18. James Gagnon F/V Esperanza Oregon
19. Eli Icenogle F/V Ingibjorg K Oregon
20. Mark Kemmish F/V Richard H Oregon
21. Guy Lutz F/V Jessica A Oregon
22. Lonnie Marrington F/V Helen Marie Inc. Oregon
23. Ray Monroe F/V Outlaw Oregon
24. Brett Montague F/V Jo El Oregon
25. Jason Prophet F/V Prophet Fishiser Oregon
26. Joel Purkey F/V AliceFaye Oregon
27. Brad Quinn F/V Concubine Oregon
28. Gary Stevens F/V Turmoil Oregon
29. Greg Temple F/V Infinity Oregon
30. Matthew Wagner F/V Tina Lea Oregon
31. Jeff Werner F/V Deanna Marie Oregon
32. Joe Zelfer F/V Royal Oregon
33. Gretar Gudmundsson F/V Provider/Valiant Washington
34. Burlin Phillips F/V Melville/Dawn Venture/Glass Slipper Washington