US Commerce Department declares four fishery disasters

Published on
July 2, 2021

Four U.S. fisheries, from New York’s troubled bay scallops to Northwest salmon, were declared to have suffered fishery disasters in 2018-2020 by Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo this week.

The collapses affected two states, Alaska and New York, and two Tribes, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe and the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis, in Washington.

“Fisheries are essential to our communities and economy, and we want to ensure America is in a position to remain competitive on the global stage,” Secretary Raimondo said in a 29 June announcement. “These determinations allow us to lend a helping hand to the fishing families and communities that have experienced very real and difficult setbacks in the last few years.”

The secretary of commerce with NMFS evaluates fishery disaster requests, based primarily on data submitted by the requesting state or tribe.

To win a disaster declaration and aid eligibility those requests must meet specific requirements under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and/or the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act. Requests must demonstrate “commercial fishery economic impacts and declines in fishery access or biomass resulting from specific allowable causes due to the fishery disaster event,” according to the department.

The qualifying requests were for:

  • ● 2019 Norton Sound Red King Crab in Alaska
  • ● 2019/2020 Peconic Bay Scallop in New York
  • ● 2018 Port Gamble S’Klallam Puget Sound Coho Salmon in Washington
    ● 2019 Chehalis and Black River Spring Chinook Salmon in Washington

Positive determinations make these fisheries eligible for disaster assistance from NOAA. They may also qualify for disaster assistance from the Small Business Administration. The Department of Commerce has balances remaining from previously appropriated fishery disaster assistance and will determine the appropriate allocation for these disasters.

However, Commerce and NMFS officials determined that red tides afflicting the Florida Gulf coast did not cause a fishery disaster for Florida fisheries between 2018 and 2019.

Reporting by National Fisherman Staff

Photo courtesy of Peconic Estuary Program

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