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USDA awards Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Affiliation with funding to conduct evaluation of native seafood safety and seafood business workforce


December 24, 2021

Friday PM

(SitNews) Sitka, Alaska – The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Affiliation (ALFA) introduced that it was chosen by the U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA) to obtain a Regional Meals System Partnership (RFSP) grant as a part of the Agriculture Advertising Service’s Native Agriculture Advertising Program (LAMP). ALFA was one among 30 initiatives chosen throughout 24 states to obtain an RFSP grant and can use the funding to foster new partnerships round Alaska that assist construct a extra resilient regional meals system, particularly in terms of native seafood entry and seafood business workforce improvement.

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The impacts of Covid-19 highlighted lengthy standing workforce improvement and meals insecurity points in Alaska. The seafood business supplies the spine of coastal economies however depends on outdoors labor for processing, advertising and marketing, and transport. Quarantine necessities led to important labor shortages and excessive prices. As well as, at present lower than 1 p.c of the seafood caught in Alaska stays in Alaska to learn the native economic system. Alaska is among the prime 5 most meals insecure states within the nation. 95% of the $2 billion of meals Alaskan’s buy is imported and 14% of Alaskans, together with 20% of youngsters, face meals insecurity.

In response to the pandemic and meals insecurity in Alaska, in March 2020, the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Affiliation fashioned a state-wide-coalition of nonprofits, tribal organizations, navy organizations, metropolis and boroughs, foundations, fishermen, and seafood processors to deal with meals insecurity and workforce improvement challenges. The coalition was made attainable with funding from Catch Collectively; a nonprofit that helps progressive conservation endeavors and fishermen-led efforts that tackle long-term entry to native fishery assets, and the Alaska Neighborhood Basis. This initiative, which turned generally known as the Seafood Donation Program, offered stipends and workforce assist to the seafood business and deployed $2.5 million to buy native seafood for distribution, offering greater than 630,000 free meals of Alaska seafood to people and households dealing with meals insecurity. 

With funding from the USDA, ALFA will develop and implement a two-year evaluation that appears on the 2020 Seafood Donation Program and the feasibility of increasing it into an ongoing program. As well as, the evaluation will have a look at present seafood business workforce improvement applications to determine gaps and boundaries retaining native Alaskans from taking part within the seafood business. The challenge will culminate with the event of a feasibility research for a ten-year statewide seafood distribution and workforce improvement plan with emphasis on cultural relevance of seafood and serving marginalized communities. 

“We’re honored to hold this challenge ahead and assist lay the groundwork for brand new initiatives and applications in Alaska that might assist make our communities more healthy and extra resilient,” mentioned Linda Behnken, Govt Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Affiliation. “Due to this assist from the USDA, we’ll be capable to work with a variety of companions to evaluate the place the largest wants and alternatives are for guaranteeing that our native meals methods are higher ready for future disruptions comparable to COVID-19, and that we now have the instruments in place to encourage native employment in our seafood business.”

As a “partnership” grant, ALFA’s challenge will rely closely on the engagement of numerous stakeholders and might be guided by a proper steering committee together with representatives from  Alaska tribes, seafood distributors, nationwide and state philanthropic and basis management, cooks, group, and coverage leaders in addition to youth representatives. A few of these steering committee members will embody founding companions of the Seafood Donation Program, together with Sam Schimmel from Kenai who helped spearhead a number of salmon distributions to Alaska Native households within the Anchorage and Fairbanks communities. 

“I’m actually excited to be a part of this challenge and assist create new, locally-grown options to some very complicated issues,” mentioned Sam Schimmel. “We all know that these wants aren’t going away, so this challenge is a crucial alternative for us to all come collectively, share data, and determine how we are able to guarantee our Alaska Native communities proceed to have entry to the Native meals that hold us related to our traditions and to our cultures.”

“There’s no query that Alaska’s seafood business faces numerous challenges in terms of workforce, whether or not that’s greying of the fleet or lack of recent recruitment into the fisheries,” mentioned Norm Pillen, President of Seafood Producers Cooperative in Sitka, Alaska.  “I am wanting ahead to seeing what we be taught via this challenge and the way it might help advance conversations already underway about the way forward for Alaska’s seafood business and our coastal communities.” 

The funding is made attainable via grant applications administered by the Agricultural Advertising Service (AMS) as a part of the Native Agriculture Advertising Program (LAMP): the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs (FMLFPP) and the Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP).

Edited By: Mary Kauffman, SitNews

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Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Affiliation

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