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February 26, 2014
Today, NOAA Fisheries announced that $75 million appropriated by Congress as part of the Fiscal Year 2014 federal budget will be allocated to six fisheries across the country that were declared fishery disasters by the Department of Commerce in 2012 and 2013.
Those receiving allocations from the disaster relief fund include: commercial fisheries in American Samoa following the tsunami of 2009; commercial fisheries in Mississippi following the Mississippi River flood of 2011; the New England multispecies groundfish fishery for the 2013 season; Alaska’s Chinook salmon fishery for 2011 and 2012; the Florida oyster fishery in the Gulf of Mexico due to a drought in 2012; and fisheries in New York and New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
”Our nation’s fisheries are critically important to the lives and livelihoods of many communities,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “NOAA Fisheries will work with affected communities, states and tribes as quickly as possible to ensure that the disaster relief funding gets allocated as quickly as possible.”
Funding recipients will have broad latitude to determine the best use of the funds to meet the unique needs of their local businesses and communities. Funds can be used for activities that, “restore the fishery or prevent a similar failure in the future, and to assist a fishing community affected by such failure.”
There are a number of steps that have to take place before the money can be distributed. Funds are allocated out through the federal grant process. NOAA Fisheries will work with the recipients to develop spend plans and ensure that all statutory and grant requirements are addressed. We have determined that matching requirements do not apply to states, Councils and Commissions in this particular situation.
Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Commerce Secretary can declare a fishery disaster, which makes it possible for Congress to appropriate funds to provide economic assistance to fishing businesses and communities, including fishermen, affected by a disaster and to support other activities addressing the disaster.
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