National Fisheries Institute launches campaign defending US seafood jobs

Published on
August 3, 2018

The National Fisheries Institute is rebranding its AboutSeafood.com website in an effort to support U.S. seafood workers, the organization announced on Thursday, 2 August. 

The move comes on the heels of existing and potential future tariffs between the United States and China. What started out as a set of tariffs initiated by U.S. President Donald Trump in January eventually escalated into a full-blown trade war, which hit the the seafood industry when China implemented 25 percent tariffs in June on several items, including seafood.

The United States soon responded with its own tariffs on seafood in July. China, in turn, said it would take “firm and forceful measures” in response. Now, President Trump has threatened still more tariffs as U.S. fishermen seek relief for the damage already being done by existing tariffs on their goods.

The NFI’s new campaign, “Seafood, See Jobs,” looks into the lives of workers that rely on the seafood industry for their livelihood. Fishmongers, lobstermen, and fishermen are featured, in addition to the many tertiary roles that rely on the industry, such as chefs, truck drivers, and manufacturing workers. The goal is to demonstrate the real impact the tariffs are having on American workers.

“To understand the negative impact these tariffs will have on American workers you have to go see them, you have to talk to them, you have to hear their concerns,” said NFI President John Connelly. “We’re bringing those stories to policy makers so they understand; this is not a theoretical, economic chess game. These tariffs have the potential to do a lot of harm to the seafood community and that community’s jobs are right here in the U.S.”

That includes jobs in seafood processing and other occupations that rely on raw product from other countries. The idea, said NFI, is that the United States can’t simply “make more seafood” in U.S. waters.

“U.S. waters are some of the best managed in the world and are fished to their sustainable yield,” NFI said. “To feed Americans the seafood community must source seafood from countries around the globe, even as U.S harvesters tap global markets to sell their catch.”

Jobs in processing, portioning, value-adding, storing, delivering, and serving at the restaurant and grocery levels will all be impacted if there’s a lower amount of raw material to go around, according to NFI.

“Seafood trade is not a matter of import vs. domestic,” NFI said. “Vital U.S seafood exports are caught up in the trade war already and its impacts could be devastating to men and women who work the water in Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Oregon, Washington and Alaska.”

Giving a view of the men and women that are directly affected by the impact is key, said Connelly.

“Listen to Matt at his family’s seafood market.  Find out why rural entrepreneurs, like Megan, are worried. Hear George’s concerns about tariffs on lobster exports,” he said.  “Take a look at these videos and you will get a sense of how important it is that when policy makers seafood they see jobs.”

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