WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a grant award of $1,853,268 to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission through the Seafood Processors Pandemic Response and Safety Block Grant Program (SPRS) to support seafood processors, processing facilities and processing vessels.
The grant funding will help defray costs incurred by seafood processing facilities and processing vessels preparing for, preventing exposure to, and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. SPRS recipients include state agencies, commissions, or departments responsible for agriculture, fisheries, wildlife, seafood, commercial processing, or related commerce activities in Virginia and across the country. This program is funded by the Pandemic Assistance provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
“Our fisheries and aquaculture industries have endured intense economic hardships since the beginning of COVID-19. The tools and resources made available by the USDA’s Seafood Processors Pandemic Response and Safety Block Grant Program will ensure that Coastal Virginia’s fisheries and seafood-related businesses will recover from the pandemic and thrive,” Rep. Luria said. “Seafood is a vital economic engine and way of life in Coastal Virginia, and I encourage all who are eligible to apply for this assistance.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rep. Luria has been a strong voice for the aquaculture and seafood industries, helping to secure $300 million for the fishery and aquaculture industries in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and calling for hearings to increase the amount of aid to Virginia’s seafood industry. In a bipartisan letter to then Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Rep. Luria fought to expediate relief and funding to fishery and aquaculture industries.
Rep. Luria also called on the House Natural Resources Committee last year to hold a hearing to improve federal aid to fisheries and provide proportional relief to the aquaculture industry in Virginia and across the country.
The Commonwealth of Virginia is home to approximately 1,850 seafood processing and wholesale workers, which represents 3 percent of the nation’s total. In addition, according to the USDA’s 2018 Census of Agriculture, Virginia aquaculture growers had sales of over $112 million, or nearly 7.5 percent of the country’s total aquaculture sales.
Virginia seafood processors and processing vessels interested in these funds should apply directly through the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.