2019 US Atlantic herring fishery declared “disaster”
NOAA announced on 22 November that U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo declared the 2019 Atlantic herring fishery a “fishery disaster.”
A fishery disaster determination brings with it funding that would help the industry in the region. Disaster declarations have in the past gone to regions that have been hit with sudden impacts to livelihoods – like the funding that went to Gulf of Mexico fishers in the wake of impacts caused by the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway.
“Fishery disasters don’t just impact local communities – they ripple out into the broader economy impacting consumers and businesses far beyond the coast,” Raimondo said. “Resilient and sustainable fisheries are not only essential to our coastal communities, but play a vital role in supporting our blue economy and our nation’s overall economic wellbeing. With this determination, we proudly support our fishing industry and will work with the affected communities to help them get back on track.”
According to NOAA, the determination was reached via data provided by NOAA Fisheries that showed the incident met specific requirements, which are contained under both the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act.
Now that the determination has been made, the fishery is eligible for disaster assistance from NOAA.
Top members of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee filed a bill in March 2021 to reform the fishery disaster process. The bill, the Fishery Resource Disasters improvement Act, would give the Commerce Secretary a 120-day timeframe to evaluate disaster requests, and also details how relief funds can be allocated. The bill has so far passed the U.S. Senate, and is now awaiting passage in the U.S. House of Representatives.
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