The Alaska Senate recently passed a capital budget that includes a $7.5 million grant for SeaShare, a nonprofit organization. This grant aims to help smaller fish processing companies in Alaska that are unable to compete with larger federal purchases. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced significant purchases of salmon and Alaska pollock totaling over $100 million. The proposed state funds will support these smaller companies by purchasing excess seafood from last year’s harvest, which is currently costly for companies to store. Additionally, part of the grant will be used to buy new freezers for communities, enhancing their future storage capabilities.

The seafood purchased with this grant will be donated to food programs and banks across Alaska. This move comes as the state’s seafood industry faces a severe market downturn, leading to an unprecedented drop in seafood prices. According to Senator Bert Stedman, this initiative is a first of its kind during his two decades in the Legislature, designed to address the dramatic market conditions affecting all facets of the industry.

The Senate’s broader budget proposal aims to increase capital budget spending significantly, with other allocations including support for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and construction of a skilled nursing facility by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. The proposals are still pending approval from the Alaska House and must survive a veto from Governor Mike Dunleavy. The inclusion of the SeaShare grant highlights the growing recognition of the need for targeted support within the seafood industry, not only to relieve current storage costs but also to ensure a more sustainable future for all stakeholders, from processors to local fishing communities.

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