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PHOTOS AND VIDEO: Kaine Celebrates Introduction of Bipartisan Bill to Support Virginia’s Seafood Industry

Seafood Event


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today in Lottsburg, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine celebrated the introduction of his Save Our Seafood (SOS) Act, bipartisan legislation he introduced alongside Senator Mark Warner that would help seafood processors hire the seasonal workers they need in a timely manner.

“The seafood industry is not just important to our economy, but important to who we are as Virginians. We want to make sure we keep you around for a very long time,” Kaine said to seafood industry leaders. “It would be a shame if we got choked up because we couldn’t solve this labor issue. So let’s stay at the table together – we will make this happen.”

“Virginia’s seafood businesses rely on seasonal workers to keep their operations up and running. However, even in the best of circumstances, seafood processors struggle to find enough workers to meet demand,” said Sen. Warner. “This legislation would exempt seasonal, non-immigrant workers in the seafood processing industry from the limits on H-2B visas, allowing processors to fully staff their operations during harvest season, avoid the frustrating uncertainty of the H-2B lottery, and focus on growing their businesses.”

The Virginia seafood industry contributes over $1 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy each year, supports over 7,000 jobs for Virginians, and generates $26 million in state tax revenue. Many of Virginia’s seafood processors rely on workers from the H-2B visa program to harvest and process Virginia crabs and oysters in season, but processors annually struggle to get enough workers during the season when they are needed most. The SOS Act would permanently exempt seasonal, non-immigrant workers who work in seafood processing from the cap on H-2B visas, ensuring that processors have the workforce they need, when they need them to meet the increased demand at the start of the harvesting season.  

Kaine and Warner have long supported Virginia’s seafood industry. Earlier this year, the senators met with former Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Marty Walsh to discuss workforce challenges for Virginia’s seafood industry and urge DOL to consider reforms to the H-2B lottery to help seafood processors meet their seasonal labor needs. Kaine and Warner also successfully pushed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the release of additional H-2B visas to support Virginia’s seafood industry.

Joining Kaine and Warner in introducing the legislation are Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Kennedy (R-LA), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

Full text of the bill is available here.