Net fishermen are eligible for some $30-million in benefits approved by the state Legislature, including retraining, net buy-backs and unemployment compensation. The benefits are being distributed to more than 6,000 affected fishermen and their families on a first-come, first-served basis.
In Citrus County, retraining is available through the Withlacoochee Technical Institute in a variety of subjects, from auto mechanics and welding to truck driving and medical work. The Citrus-Hernando Private Industry Council is offering free aptitude tests to help fishermen pick a vocation that suits them.
Unemployment benefits of as much as $250 a week will be available for up to six months, depending on how much of a person's wages were earned from net-caught species.
All of these agencies, as well as others, will be represented at a one-stop session for affected fishermen from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and July 10 and 11 at the offices of the Economic Development Association of Citrus County, 1520 N Meadowcrest Blvd., next to Capital City Bank in Crystal River.
Fishermen wanting to register for benefits at the one-stop session are asked to bring their saltwater products license number and documentation of annual earnings from net fishing.
For more information on any of these benefits, call Mark Taylor at (813) 893-1299 or the Citrus-Hernando Private Industry Council at (904) 754-5177.
Other agencies that can help are:
Citrus United Basket: 344-2242.
Family Resource Center: 344-1001.
Daystar Life Center: 795-8868.
St. Vincent de Paul Society: 726-1707.