City throws a line to the longline fishing industry with a new program

City throws a line to the longline fishing industry with a new program

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly 350,000 fish portions will be distributed to Oahu families over the next five months.

It’s part of a new city initiative called the “Fish to Dish” program. Its intended to support families in need while helping the longline fishing industry.

The city is paying for it with more than $2.6 million from the Coronavirus Relief Act. The funding is expected to cover 28 vessel landings per week for the next three months.

The Hawaii Foodbank and the Hawaii Seafood Council are partnering with the city to pull off the program.

“This support really does, in many ways, act as an investment into Hawaii’s fishing industry, into its future, as well as to get us through this pandemic period,” Eric Kingma, executive director of the Hawaii Longline Association said.

Kingma added that recent restaurants welcoming back customers have helped stabilize the ahi market in particular, but the other fish species continue to take a hit.

Hawaii’s longline fishing industry says it lost more than $20 million in revenue since the start of the pandemic. Several boats haven’t left the harbor in about four or five months, Kingma added.

Leaders hope the cash infusion will also help lower production costs and help funding for maintenance and infrastructure upgrades.

The city hopes to launch the program Monday.

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