A Simple Request to Congress and Our Clients

Please Don’t Forget About Us

Tony Friedrich Vice President and Policy Director

There are some blogs that I am excited to write. There are some technical blogs that are like going to the dentist. This one is a combination of scary, sad, and concerned. It is hard to quantify all those feelings, but we are in uncharted territory.

Covid-19 is laying waste to our industry. We know there are many others suffering as well. We are well aware of that. With all the restrictions happening, fishermen are being hit particularly hard. Everything is closing. Some counties are restricting access to non-residents. People are scared and rightly so.

Fishing guides and other fishing related businesses are faltering. When people can’t come into a shop or non-residents are restricted from entering counties, our businesses die. Spring is the time when shops are busiest with people preparing for the season. Spring is our time to book trips for the entire year. None of this is happening.

While other industries are first in line for bailouts, most of us are self-employed. That means we can’t even collect unemployment. We are trying to address this on a federal level. Here is our letter to Congress explaining our tenuous situation.

We are going to put as much pressure on our elected officials as possible. Senators Markey, Warren, Sullivan, and Murkowski have already sent a letter to other Senate leaders requesting help for fishermen of all kinds.

When evaluating potential support, Congress should consider the establishment of federal procurement programs specifically for U.S. seafood products; helping fishermen with vessel loan payments and refinancing; qualifying fishermen for unemployment insurance; funding federal fisheries disaster assistance; and deploying other financial support mechanisms to maintain the stability of the seafood industry. We also strongly support robust funding for the National Marine Fisheries Service in the regular appropriations process to ensure that the global pandemic does not compromise management of our nation’s fisheries.

We urge you to consider the unique and dire plight of the fishermen and seafood producers in the next legislative response to COVID-19. Without assistance, we face the real possibility of losing a significant portion of our fishing industry to economic challenges caused by COVID-19, and forever changing the character of our working waterfronts. 

You are our only safety net if that fails.

We are trying to reach out to you, the public. We are the first people you call for a fundraising donation. We are always there to help you even though most of the time we can’t really afford it. Now, we are asking for your help.

For those of you who booked trips with the guides, we understand if you can’t go fishing with us in the next few weeks. Please, don’t ask for your deposit back. If you can find it in your heart to reschedule, it would be greatly appreciated. Some of our best clients are paying for the trip upfront and keeping the date flexible. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate it. If the rest of you could do what you can, we won’t forget it. If you don’t usually use a guide, please consider taking a trip with us later on in the summer or fall 2020. It will take us a while to get beyond this crisis. We would love to take you on a charter and show you what we know.

Most of our locally owned tackle shops are offering curb side pickup or online ordering. Please get something from them. Every little bit is going to help. They are there for you. Please, be there for them.

These are extraordinary times. ASGA appreciates all that is being done to curb the impacts of the virus. We believe in the country. We believe in the fishing community. The small businesses we represent are there time and time again for all of you. Please, be there for us. Pick up the phone and place an order with your local tackle shop. Email a guide and book a trip and pay for as much as you can now, not tomorrow.

Our businesses shouldn’t be a casualty of this crisis. In fact, we should be the leading edge of the recovery. We thank you for your time. Stay healthy. We are all in this together and we will be stronger and tougher once we get through it.

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