UAF, USDA could bring grant money to local shrimpers

Posted: Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A new grant program could mean some extra funds for Southeast Alaska commercial shrimp fishermen. The University of Alaska Fairbanks and U.S. Department of Agriculture are teaming up to provide grants totaling up to $12,000 though the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File

The money will be awarded to qualifying shrimpers who apply for and participate in the program's training workshops.

Glenn Haight, the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program's fisheries business specialist, said those that take 16 hours of industry-specific training can qualify to receive up to $4,000.

"It's trying to get some industry-based training to make them more competitive and modify business," said Haight.

There is more money to be had. Haight explained shrimpers who complete the training can then write their own business plans to qualify for up to $8,000 more. These plans should explain how they can modify their operations to become more profitable. Haight said these plans could also entail how a shrimper could move into other lines of work. He said the USDA will even pay for consultants to assist fishermen in writing these plans.

"Alaska commercial shrimp fishermen have been severely diminished economically in recent years. There's hardly any commercial fishing for shrimp here now. There just isn't much of a market and the prices are low," he stated in a press release.

The amount each fisherman can receive will vary. Haight said $12,000 is the maximum but the awarded amounts could be less.

There are some requirements to apply for the program. Applicants must have caught or landed shrimp in 2008 as part of a pot or beam trawl commercial fishery. This shrimping must have been done using a valid permit. They also must have fished during at least one of the three years prior to that.

Haight said there are around 100 such permit holders in Southeast Alaska that could qualify. He said another development that may help increase the number of applicants is that spouses and crew of eligible applicants may also qualify for grants.

The application deadline is Dec. 23. Signing up can be done through the Alaska USDA Farm Service Agency. Haight recommended contacting Jimmy LaVoie at (907) 761-7751 for applications.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.



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