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This year, for the first time ever the Bering Sea snow crab harvest is closed, and the second consecutive closed season for the fall red king crab harvest.

Climate change has negatively impacted the crab industry in the Bering Sea.

Newly elected Rep. Mary Sattler Peltola (D-AK), who ran as a“pro-fish” candidate, is seeking funding ease the financial difficulties for the crab industry in her state from Congress. Last week, she sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro asking them to consider appropriating disaster relief funding for those impacted by this year’s total shutdown of crab harvests.

“Thousands of boat owners, crew members, seafood processor workers, wholesalers, retailers and service industry workers are and will be affected by this biologically and environmentally necessary — but economically devastating — shutdown of their livelihood,” wrote Peltola. “I request inclusion of $250 million in fisheries disaster funding in an end-of-the-year funding vehicle as Congress moves toward adjournment.”

Peltola said that scientists continue to research the causes of these declines in the crab populations which include stressors from warmer water, increased ocean acidity and bycatch mortality caused by other gear types working in the crab habitat area.

“Hopefully, we will learn more of the cause and possible remedies, and how to better manage the fishery in a changing climate. Until then, the people dependent on the fisheries are in a disastrous situation,” said Peltola. “I believe this robust emergency appropriation would allow boat owners, crew members, processors, service businesses and the communities that are so dependent on the fleet to make their debt payments, remain viable and return to work when crab stocks recover.”

You can read Peltola’s full letter here.

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