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Collins: $20M On The Way To Maine's Seafood Sector Struggling With COVID-19 Impacts

Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins says the federal government is releasing $300 million in emergency funds to help the nation's seafood sector — including $20 million for Maine. In a tweetThursday morning, Collins says the money is on its way, although details of how exactly it will be deployed aren't clear yet. Collins and fellow Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, led the effort to carve out the funds from the emergency CARES Act.

Collins, U.S. Sen. Angus King and a bipartisan coalition of other coastal senators are also calling on Senate leaders to direct the Department of Agriculture to spend $2 billion to buy seafood and distribute it to food banks. And they want another $1 billion in direct assistance to fishermen and other seafood sector businesses that lost significant sales when restaurants shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the U.S. House, meanwhile, Maine 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree and several other House members are calling on leaders to set aside some $20 billion for the seafood industry the next time a coronavirus spending package comes through.

In an emailed statement, Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher thanked Sen. Collins and Maine's Congressional Delegation, and said that the Department would work to distribute fundsonce it recieved guidance from NOAA. 

Kelihr also said that, “While this funding is a welcome step forward, additional funding will be necessary to more fully mitigate the losses facing our $1.5 billion seafood industry here in Maine.”
Updated 4:37 p.m. May 7, 2020

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.