WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, after four U.S. senators urged the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Assistant Administrator to be fair in determining how Fishery Disaster Assistance funding would be allocated to fishermen and seafood processors across the country, NOAA announced the administration decided to establish a minimum allocation of $1 million in fishery disaster assistance for small, coastal states.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act appropriated $300 million to NOAA for fishery disaster assistance. Last week, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) urged NOAA to consider a minimum allocation for small, coastal states to ensure that small businesses in these states receive a fair share of the federal aid they badly need.
“As NOAA continues its process of determining how it will distribute this critical funding, we urge you to be as transparent and communicative as possible and to engage a wide range of fishery participants,” the senators wrote in their letter to NOAA last week.
“Further, we strongly urge you to consider a minimum allocation for small, coastal states. Doing so will protect struggling small fishing operations that might be underserved if funding is distributed in proportion to the value of commercial fisheries in each state without instituting a minimum allocation. We fear that any allocation to states based solely on commercial landings may not accurately reflect where our fishermen live and work.”
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has devastated fisheries, fisheries distributors, and fisheries processors, who are experiencing severe economic losses as domestic purchasing has plunged and exports have slowed. With limited capital, fishing communities – business owners, crews, and processing plant workers – are facing unforeseen financial hardships that put their livelihoods at risk. Now, Delaware will receive the minimum funding allocation of $1 million. Connecticut will receive $1,835,424.