With an initial $300 million aid package coming, the National Marine Fisheries Service has launched an effort to collect detailed information on how the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic lockdown is affecting the U.S. seafood industry.

The project includes online outreach, asking fishermen, aquaculture growers and other businesses through the supply chain to submit information by email to the task force at [email protected]

“We recently stood up a team of experts from across the agency to collect and analyze covid-19-related impacts on the U.S. commercial seafood industry, including wild harvest and aquaculture,” according to a statement by the agency Thursday. “We are interested in learning about the virus' impacts on their employees, their business, the businesses they support, and the broader seafood supply chain.

“We are also looking at impacts on the recreational, subsistence, non-commercial, and tribal fishing industries.”

The $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act includes $300 million earmarked for fishing communities, and in a historic shift provides unemployment support for the self-employed, including fishermen.

But fishermen and suppliers say the market will remain frozen without ways to reconnect with customers, including restaurants that are the biggest consumer sector for fresh seafood.

 “With this effort, we are interested in assessing immediate and long-term needs to secure and enhance the resilience of the U.S. seafood and fisheries industries,” according to NMFS. “We will continue to work with the Administration and Congress on this important, unprecedented covid-19-driven effort.

“Stakeholders interested in sharing information on the effects of covid-19 on their businesses can submit that information to [email protected]. “

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Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for more than 30 years and a 25-year field editor for National Fisherman before joining our Commercial Marine editorial staff in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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