WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Congresswoman Elaine Luria called on the House Natural Resources Committee to hold a hearing to improve federal aid provided to fishery participants to ensure adequate relief is provided to Virginia’s aquaculture and shellfish industry.
“In Coastal Virginia, hardworking watermen, small businesses, restaurants, and wholesale distributors in the aquaculture and shellfish industries face unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congresswoman Elaine Luria. “We can and must do more to support economic recovery, and I urge the House Natural Resources Committee to pursue the Congressional oversight necessary to ensure fair and adequate distribution of economic relief to aquaculture and seafood businesses.”
As the representative for much of Virginia’s coastline, Congresswoman Luria highlights that shellfish growers make up more than 80% of Virginia’s aquaculture sector and faced unique barriers during the COVID-19 pandemic because most of their products are sold in restaurants rather than grocery stores. The CARES Act provided $300 million total in fisheries disaster assistance, however, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) allocated just $4.5 million for Virginia. In her letter, Congresswoman Luria urges Chair Jared Huffman of the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee to include a witness from Virginia to speak to why this allocation fell far short of the relief needed to keep many in the aquaculture and shellfish industry solvent.