Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) plans to introduce legislation to create a national seafood marketing and development effort to increase value and create jobs in the seafood industry. The proposal was drafted by a nationwide coalition and is supported by 75 fishing groups and others from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. The legislation is being finalized and will be introduced when the Senate reconvenes this month. Supporters in the industry need to be aware of the progress of the bill and also be ready to support it in Congress.
“It is in the nation’s best interest to maintain a strong seafood industry for both the health of our people and the health of our economy,” Begich said. “Encouraging marketing activities such as quality improvement, market research, new product development, infrastructure, and promotion will increase the consumption and demand for seafood in the U.S., increase the value of our industry, help grow the economy and boost U.S. jobs.”
The legislation would create a National Seafood Marketing Fund to provide a long-term and sustainable source of funds for the marketing and development efforts.
The legislation includes:
- $50 million annually into the fund but finding a sustainable source of income will be critical to the success of the program;
- Of available funds, 80 percent would be distributed equally between the regional boards and the remainder distributed based on actual seafood production;
- Establishes five Regional Seafood Marketing Boards to manage and direct these dedicated funds; and
- Members of the boards would include harvesters, large and small processors and others involved in the seafood marketing, food service, transportation and retail sectors.