The seafood industry got a holiday boost this week from Congress on several fronts.

First, a $900 billion Covid relief package was passed of which $300 million is earmarked to assist the fishing industry. Seafood also was finally declared as an eligible use for USDA food purchases for its many feeding programs, and additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) also was included.

The Save our Seas Act 2.0 was passed which builds on actions signed into law in 2018 to address marine debris problems. The bipartisan law, spearheaded by Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan, is regarded as the most comprehensive ocean cleanup legislation ever to pass Congress, and calls for global engagement to prevent plastic pollution.

Save Our Seas will strengthen the US response with a Marine Debris Foundation, a genius prize for innovation and new research.

It also aims to enhance global engagement including formalizing US policy on international cooperation and improving US infrastructure to prevent marine debris through new studies of waste management and mitigation.

The bill also proposes many efforts to improve US waste management systems, particularly recycling infrastructure. For example, it creates a loan program for states to support trash wheel and litter trap technologies. Senator Sullivan said that he is already looking to a third bill that would focus on how China processes U.S. recyclables.

Finally, Democrats this week provided a first peek at the Magnuson-Stevens Act legislation they plan to introduce early next year.

The MSA provides the ‘rules of the road’ for US fishery management and conservation. The reauthorized bill would maintain the eight regional fishery councils but require members to receive training on climate change and consider climate science in deliberations.

Undercurrent News reports the bill also seeks to improve disaster relief programs, create a working waterfront grant program and increase support for seafood marketing, including re-establishing the National Seafood Council. It also would direct the USDA and NOAA to work together to increase seafood industry participation in the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.