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Senator Collins, Congresswoman Pingree Urge Swift Disbursement of Relief to Maine Fishing Industry

Washington, May 21, 2020

Senator Susan Collins and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree today wrote to Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) Commissioner Patrick Keliher, advocating for swift allocation of the more than $20 million Maine received through the CARES Act for fishing industry relief. The lawmakers encouraged DMR to quickly develop a plan for how the funding would be allocated in the state. Full text of Collins and Pingree’s letter is available online here and below this release.

“With each day that passes, the damage imposed upon Maine’s hardworking harvesters and seafood supply chain businesses worsens. As your team works to develop a plan for how this funding will be allocated within the state, we stand ready to assist the Department and to ensure that NOAA’s approval of the state’s ultimate plan occurs as quickly as possible,”said Collins and Pingree in their letter. “As your federal partners we are fully prepared to provide any additional support as implementation moves forward. As Congress considers further COVID-19 relief legislation, we will continue to advocate for additional fishing industry relief given that the market disruptions are not likely to dissipate soon.”

The Maine delegation has urged direct and substantial relief for Maine’s aquaculture and fishing industries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 70% of seafood produced in the United States is consumed in restaurants and export markets have been hurt by travel and trade restrictions; Maine’s seafood industry has been almost completely shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Senator Collins and Representative Pingree worked with bipartisan groups of their colleagues from coastal states to secure $300 million in the CARES Act specifically to assist fishermen and fishery-related businesses such as dealers, processors, and aquaculture operations affected by COVID-19. Both Collins and Pingree wrote to the U.S. Department of Commerce to call on them to quickly release this urgently needed financial assistance to Maine fishermen.

Dear Commissioner Keliher, 

We are pleased that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has finally announced the allocation of $300 million in fishing industry relief provided by Sec.12005 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, of which Maine will receive more than $20 million. Your Department plays an essential role in ensuring that our fishermen and lobstermen are able to support their families and communities – a role that has become even more critical in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With each day that passes, the damage imposed upon Maine’s hardworking harvesters and seafood supply chain businesses worsens. As your team works to develop a plan for how this funding will be allocated within the state, we stand ready to assist the Department and to ensure that NOAA’s approval of the state’s ultimate plan occurs promptly. 

We appreciate the attention and effort that your Department is dedicating to the efficient and effective distribution of this critical funding, including your solicitation of input from the industry via survey on how this money would be best spent. It is absolutely critical that this assistance be provided as quickly as possible to those individuals working on the water whose livelihoods have suffered through no fault of their own. As Congress considers further COVID-19 relief legislation, we will continue to advocate for additional fishing industry relief given that the market disruptions are likely to persist well into the summer.

Again, thank you for your work on behalf of Maine. The Maine seafood industry and those who work within it are defined by resilience, and we are confident that – with the support of the state and federal government – this sector will demonstrate its resilience once again.

 

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