Alaska Fishermen Laud Generosity in Tsunami Relief Project

A non-profit entity formed in Juneau in 2005 to help Gulf of Mexico fishing communities damaged by two hurricanes has turned its efforts to helping Japanese fishing communities hit by the tsunami following a devastating earthquake. To date the Alaska Fishing Industry Relief Mission, or AFIRM, has received more than $300,000 in donations from fishing vessel owners, seafood processing companies and their employees, and other firms doing business in the seafood industry, AFIRM chairman Larry Cotter said this week.

The Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers Association received contributions in excess of $70,000 in individual donations for its vessel owners. Seafood processor Unisea meanwhile matched $79,000 in donations from its crab and pollock vessels.

Fishing vessels at Kodiak have donated $13,000 so far, and Glacier Fish Co. has matched its employees’ donations to raise an additional $26,000. Clipper Seafoods is leading an ongoing employee and longline catcher-processor fleet fund drive. Aleutian Spray Fisheries meanwhile contributed $20,000 on behalf of its fleet.

Other donations include $20,000 from the Aleutians Pribilof Island Community Development Association, $5,000 from Tatoosh Seafoods, $5,000 from Northwest Farm Service Creditors and also 100 individual vessels or skippers with donations from $500 to $10,000, said AFIRM treasurer Mark Vinsel.

Apart from donations directly to AFIRM, Trident Seafoods has raised more than $250,000 and donated several containers of food. Silver Bay Seafoods donated $150,000 to a seafood industry fund organized by the Japan seafood industry publication Minato Shimbun. American Seafoods sent $26,000 to the Red Cross from its employees, and will be donating $26,000 to AFIRM, he said.

The non-profit’s board and advisors are in contact with the Japanese Embassy in Washington DC, the Japanese Fisheries Association and others, trying to find the most effective way to directly assist people and communities in need.