(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) joined the full Maryland congressional delegation, including U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, Andy Harris, M.D., Anthony G. Brown,  and David Trone, in writing to Wilber Ross, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and Chris Oliver, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), urging coordination with states to quickly allocate assistance and inclusion of Maryland’s value-added seafood processors in relief aid set aside in the CARES Act for fisheries.

“Stay-at-home orders, travel restrictions, closures of non-essential business, and other measures that are critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 during this public health emergency have reduced patronage at restaurants. The global shipping system has also slowed considerably. These market factors have resulted in drastic decreases in wholesale prices for seafood. A cascade effect of the pandemic has been a slowdown in distribution, processing and fishing,” the delegation explained. Any recent market growth and “the mostly small and family-owned businesses that comprise Maryland’s seafood industry, is threatened due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

The lawmakers went on to request that “[v]alue added processors should be included among eligible recipients, unless that value added activity is extremely tangential, to capture the full seafood supply chain.” Maryland companies that primarily process fish and shellfish such as crabs, clams, oysters and iconic crab cakes for restaurants and groceries stores have in turn been greatly affected by the national health crisis.

Fisheries stakeholders interested in sharing information on the effects of COVID-19 on their businesses can submit that information to NMFS.COVID-19@noaa.gov

The full letter from the delegation can be found at this link.