The U.S. seafood industry received a $300 million assist from the $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed by the Senate on Wednesday. And a coalition of industry stakeholders is hoping for more.
Fishery participants in the relief bill include tribes, persons, communities, , processors, aquaculture and other related businesses. SeafoodNews.com reports that those eligible for relief must have “revenue losses greater than 35 percent as compared to the prior 5-year average revenue, or any negative impacts to subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial fisheries.”
The funds will be provided on a rolling basis within a fishing season through September 30, 2021. Two percent can be used for administration and oversight activities.
The package follows a bipartisan letter sent Monday to Congress by Alaska and Massachusetts senators asking, among other things, that fishermen be able to collect unemployment insurance, get help with vessel loan payments and ensure that the global pandemic does not compromise management of U.S. fisheries.
Also this week a coalition of nearly 200 seafood stakeholders sent a 12-page letter to the White House and Congress asking the government to purchase at least $2 billion worth of seafood and provide another $1.5 billion in relief for businesses and fishing communities.
The letter states that nearly 70% of the more than $102 billion that consumers paid for U.S. fishery products in 2017 was spent in dining out as opposed to eating it at home.
As a result, for many fisheries the sudden shutdown of restaurants and other storefronts has caused demand to evaporate overnight, “threatening the economic viability of the entire supply chain.”
Undercurrent News reports the letter also asks the government to appropriate a minimum of $500 million to purchase surplus seafood that can be shipped overseas or supplied to U.S. hospitals and state and local government programs to provide healthy proteins for Americans.
Meanwhile, in Alaska the Governor’s Economic Stabilization Task Force is organizing a fisheries sub-committee to address regional safety provisions.