Monday, April 29, 2019

Huffman Announces Release of Nearly $30 Million in Fisheries Disaster Funding

Posted By on Mon, Apr 29, 2019 at 10:57 AM

click to enlarge Jared Huffman. - CONGRESS
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More than a year after Congress appropriated the funds, members of the the North Coast's commercial fishing industry and a local tribe are slated to receive federal disaster support in the coming months, Rep. Jared Huffman announced this morning.

“Tribes, hardworking fishermen, their families, and coastal communities have been stuck in limbo for far too long waiting for the federal support they deserve,” said Huffman in a press release. “Congress provided this disaster relief funding more than a year ago, but the Trump administration has dragged out the process. Their delays and roadblocks have added unnecessary pain for the tribes and fishing communities who are already dealing with closed fisheries and serious economic hardship.”

The $29.7 million in federal assistance funding is slated to be released to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission on June 1, then distributed to local businesses and individuals, per the press release. The funding was made available through an appropriations bill passed in February of 2018 in response to fisheries disasters dating back to 2015, which included the closures of the 2015-2016 Dungeness crab season and the Yurok Tribe’s 2016 salmon season.

See the full press release from Huffman’s office copied below:

Reps. Huffman & Speier Announce Long-Awaited Allocation of Federal Disaster Support to California Fishing Communities

Washington, D.C.- Representatives Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) today announced that $29.65 million in long-awaited federal assistance will be finally delivered on June 1st to North Coast fishing communities that suffered major economic impacts due to fisheries disasters dating back to 2015. Huffman, the Chair of the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife, has helped lead the congressional effort to secure these federal disaster payments.

“Tribes, hardworking fishermen, their families, and coastal communities have been stuck in limbo for far too long waiting for the federal support they deserve,” said Rep. Huffman. “Congress provided this disaster relief funding more than a year ago, but the Trump administration has dragged out the process. Their delays and roadblocks have added unnecessary pain for the tribes and fishing communities who are already dealing with closed fisheries and serious economic hardship.”

“I’m relieved that the unnecessary wait for disaster relief for fishermen and tribes is finally coming to an end,” said Rep. Speier. “The closed Dungeness crab season in 2015-2016 and the closed king salmon season for the Yurok tribe in 2016 put existential hardship on these hard-working fishermen and women and their families. While this money won’t end their challenges for future fishing seasons it will at least help them to stay in an industry that is shaping our coastal communities.”

In 2016 and 2017, Reps. Huffman and Speier introduced legislation to appropriate funding for fisheries disasters and respond to the economic hardship that followed the closure of several fisheries in California, including the commercial crab season, which affected all 570 Dungeness crab permit holders, due to toxic algae and the Yurok salmon fishery.

In February 2018, Congress finally appropriated $200 million in fishery disaster funding to address fishery failures and fishery resource disasters declared nationwide in 2017, a list that included both the 2016 Yurok Klamath River Chinook salmon commercial fishery disaster and the 2015-2016 California Commercial Dungeness crab and rock crab disasters.

The 2018 fisheries disaster funding was provided to the Department of Commerce, and in March 2018 Huffman and Speier led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross calling on him to quickly send the provided aid to West Coast fishing communities.

When the fishery disaster funding ran into additional delays earlier this year, Rep. Huffman wrote to the then-director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, demanding an explanation for the “significant, unreasonable delays” in the funding and called on him to immediately approve the funding.

That federal funding, now finally announced, will be provided in June to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission to distribute to individuals and businesses dependent on fishing.


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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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