Commerce Secretary sets $65 million aside for fishery disaster recovery

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Communities in Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina will receive a combined $65 million in federal funding assistance, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced on Feb 27. The communities – including California’s Yurok Tribe – are receiving the assistance because they suffered fishery disasters between 2017 and 2019.

Fisheries identified by the Commerce Department suffered from some sort of natural disaster and were in need of assistance in order to fully recover.

“Fisheries play a critical role for coastal economies, providing jobs for fishermen, fish processors, and other related maritime industries,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) staff said in a released statement. “However, fisheries can experience natural disaster events and other circumstances beyond the control of fishery managers, resulting in sudden and unexpected losses within the fishery and leading to serious economic impacts to those who rely on them.”

Ross added the federal wounds would “help impacted fisheries recover from recent disasters and make them more resilient to future challenges.”

Commerce Department staff worked with NOAA Fisheries to make the specific allocations to those who needed the funding. NOAA Fisheries reviewed commercial revenue loss information to determine where funding should be allocated.

“The allocated funds can be used to help the fishing community including commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen, charter businesses, shore-side infrastructure, and subsistence users, as well as improve the fishing ecosystem and environment,” NOAA staff stated. “These funds will improve the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of the impacted fisheries. Activities that can be considered for funding include infrastructure projects, habitat restoration, state-run vessel and fishing permit buybacks, and job retraining.”

Traditional fishery uses that could not be accounted for in commercial revenue losses alone were also taken into account by NOAA Fisheries staff.

“Some of the affected fishing communities may be eligible for assistance from the Small Business Administration of other federal agencies,” NOAA staff added.

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