Fishing boat captains face an impossible choice: Lose money at sea or lose money at home

Published: Apr. 16, 2020 at 11:45 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s fishing industry is far from a comeback after the price of fish plummeted and the market crashed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Many fishing boat captains have been forced to lay off crew members and keep their vessels docked until it is financially viable to return to the sea.

Each trip out costs money and the price of ahi is so low, many crews are actually losing money when they operate.

Prices have rebounded slightly, but they are nowhere close to what they used to be.

[Read more: Fish prices plummet as coronavirus pandemic cripples industry and idles boats]

Fish auctions are struggling to stay open but are grateful for the business they do have.

“Fortunately for us, a lot of the vendors that purchase from us and a lot of the restaurants that purchase from them, they started tweaking their business models a little, which helped, but overall it has still been a big downturn,” said Michael Goto, of United Fishing Agency.

Goto says the federal government has set aside some $300 million for the fishing industry, but that money is to be distributed across the nation, and he worries how much will end up in Hawaii.

In the meantime, like every other American, Goto is hoping that things get back to normal sooner rather than later.

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