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September 4, 2019

$20M in fed funding will help lobster industry claw back lost market share

Food Export USA-Northeast said it will use more than $20 million in federal funding to help seafood suppliers tap into new markets, with a special focus on the lobster industry.

The Philadelphia-based nonprofit association unveiled the plan and new funding through the U.S.D.A's Agricultural Trade Promotion Program in a press release Wednesday.

It said the group will use a "significant portion" of the amount over the next few years to open new export markets for selected regional suppliers, educate importers and connect the industry to a broader range of international buyers.

"A special focus," the release said, "will be on opening new markets for the American lobster industry, which has been hardest hit by trade tensions between the U.S. and China."

New initiatives will also focus on growing international markets for seafood products, such as Jonah crabs and oysters that are in ample supply and could benefit from market diversification.

"For decades, international markets have recognized that the Northeast seafood industry produces a wide range of delicious, high quality, sustainable seafood products and is a consistent and reliable source," said Tim Hamilton, the trade group's executive director, in a news release. "Currently, the industry faces some difficult challenges, especially the American lobster industry."

He added that the group's focus on export growth aims to ensure the region's fisheries and as well as their coastal communities' way of life "remain strong and resilient."

Wade Merritt, president of the Maine International Trade Association and the state's director of international trade, told Voice of America in a recent interview that Chinese tariffs have had a significant impact on Maine lobster exports, and said that industry diversification is key.

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