Members of Florida’s Congressional Delegation sent a letter to the U.S. Commerce Department seeking help for the fishing industry.
Sens. Marco Rubio, Rick Scott and 25 Florida members of Congress signed onto the request for aid.
“Florida’s fishing industries have experienced several crises in recent years. Impacts from Hurricanes Irma and Michael, major fish kills caused by harmful algal blooms, significant habitat loss in the Florida Reef Tract due to coral bleaching and disease, and massive seagrass die offs in many of our state’s estuaries have taken their toll,” the letter reads.
“Even for those businesses who have endured these events, the economic crisis we face today as a result of the pandemic may prove fatal without your assistance.”
All members of the state Delegation signed the letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross except Tallahassee Democrat Al Lawson and Dover Republican Ross Spano.
Members said the COVID-19 pandemic posed a threat on the industry unseen before.
“This bipartisan effort to ensure that Florida’s fishing and seafood industry receives economic relief is key to financial recovery in Florida,” said Rooney.
“It is imperative that funding in the CARES Act be designated to the Florida seafood industry – including those in Southwest Florida. Their businesses have suffered immensely due to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. It is essential that Secretary Ross addresses this request and moves forward with providing Florida’s fishing and seafood industry with necessary coronavirus relief.”
That can be done by specifically directing rescue funding toward beleaguered industries, including the fishing and seafood industry.
The letter also urges Ross to work with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to ensure efforts efficiently and effectively address aquaculture needs.
“We urge you to coordinate with Secretary Perdue to utilize this authority to ease the burden this crisis has placed upon our commercial fishing industry,” the letter states.
“We also urge you to continue coordinating with the Small Business Administration, the Treasury Department, Regional Fishery Management Councils, and other stakeholders to guide fishing and seafood businesses to the relief available under the Paycheck Protection Program. Finally, we urge you to expedite consideration of the State of Florida’s pending Fisheries Disaster Declaration request concerning red tide events between 2015 and 2019, which took a devastating toll on our ecosystems.”