The Alaska Fishing Industry Relief Mission, Inc. has reactivated to aid fishing communities affected by the disastrous Japan earthquakes and tsunamis.
The announcement this week came from Larry Cotter, chairman of the AFIRM board and chief executive officer of the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association. AFRIM is offering aid through the combined donations of fishermen, processors, transportation and financial segments of the seafood industry from Alaska, the West Coast and their respective offshore federal waters.
Cotter noted that Japan is Alaska’s largest trading partner, with the majority consisting of Alaska seafood.
“In one way or another, everyone involved in any aspect of the seafood industry in Alaska and the West Coast has strong ties and relationships with Japan,” he said.
AFIRM director Terry Shaff, president of Unisea Inc., and chairman of the Pacific Seafood Processors Association, said many contributions have already come in and more will be eager to help when the situation allows for a good assessment as to what kind of help is needed most.
AFIRM, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity, was first formed to assist the Gulf fishing communities following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. The group coordinated the donation of a Marine Travellift to refloat thousands of vessels grounded far inshore by the hurricanes, as well as providing for an ice-making facility.
Even before AFIRM was born, Alaska seafood processors had donated large quantities of shelf-stable products such as canned and pouched salmon, to be distributed in the Gulf region by America's Second Harvest and other groups.
United Fishermen of Alaska’s Mark Vinsel, secretary treasurer of AFIRM, said the organization is looking for contacts in the industry and hoping to duplicate its success to help fishing communities impacted by the Gulf of Mexico hurricanes several years ago. “We want to help fishing communities and we will look for guidance from them,” he said.
More information is at www.akjapanhelp.org. Donations are fully tax deductible.