This week, the Florida congressional delegation, led by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., urged U.S. Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue to include Florida’s commercial fishermen in the lobster relief program announced by President Donald Trump on June 24.
The program addresses harm to the United States lobster industry caused by steep tariffs imposed by the Chinese government.
Besides Rubio, other signers of the letter included U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and U.S. Reps. Dan Webster, R-Fla., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Donna Shalala, D-Fla., Brian Mast, R-Fla., Francis Rooney, R-Fla., Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., Neal Dunn, R-Fla., Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., Bill Posey, R-Fla., Darren Soto, D-Fla., Ross Spano, R-Fla., and Al Lawson, D-Fla.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Secretary Perdue:
We write to request the inclusion of Florida commercial fishermen in the lobster relief program announced by President Trump on June 24, 2020, in response to the difficulties facing the United States lobster industry due to tariff action by the Chinese government.
Florida’s vibrant lobster fishery has suffered harm by the tariffs imposed by the Chinese government. Spiny lobster is the state’s second largest commercial fishery with an average annual catch of seven million pounds and a total value of more than $45 million. Spiny lobster is renowned for its quality and freshness and is immensely popular in China during holidays and other special events. An estimated 80 percent of all spiny lobster harvested in Florida is exported to China and other Asian ports as a live product. Tariffs placed on spiny lobster by the Chinese government have greatly increased the price of Florida’s spiny lobster exports. Meanwhile, the Chinese government is reducing or eliminating tariffs on competing products from other countries and have begun importing greater numbers of spiny lobster from Australia, Brazil, and the Caribbean.
This belligerent economic behavior by the Chinese government has the potential to significantly reduce the market share of Florida’s spiny lobster in the Asian marketplace, and could have a ripple affect across our state’s economy. We are concerned about the long-term future of Florida’s spiny lobster fishery and the ability of our fishermen to earn a living.
Florida’s fishermen have been harmed by the tariffs imposed on lobster from the United States. As such, we respectfully request their inclusion in the relief program.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.