Congressman urges Biden administration to expedite disaster reviews for Louisiana fisheries
A U.S. congressman representing the state of Louisiana has asked the Biden administration to move quicker on disaster determinations for fisheries in his state.
U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-Louisiana) sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo on Tuesday, 1 February, urging her to expedite her review of claims that hurricanes Laura, Delta, Zeta, and Ida significantly affected fisheries over the past two years.
Graves’ letter comes after a joint assessment conducted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), Louisiana State University, and Louisiana Sea Grant determined more than 8,500 businesses in the state were affected by the storms, which caused USD 305 million (EUR 266.9 million) in damage to key infrastructure, such as marinas, docks, and processing facilities.
“Combined with an additional USD 118 million [EUR 103.3 million] in resource loss and USD 155 million [EUR 135.6 million] revenue loss, the total estimated impact is estimated at USD 579 million [EUR 506.7 million],” Graves wrote.
The damage assessment said the hurricanes affected revenue losses in the brown shrimp fishery by about 35 percent.
Of the storms, Hurricane Ida, which hit Louisiana late last August, was responsible for the most damage. The LDWF/LSU/Sea Grant report estimated the category 4 hurricane was responsible for 70 percent of the infrastructure damage.
In September 2021, Congress approved spending up to USD 200 million (EUR 175 million) as a down payment, but he told Raimondo that the state cannot receive that money until she approves the disaster declarations.
“This recovery doesn’t just happen overnight and for every additional day that the bureaucratic process drags on, our fishers and associated small businesses can’t get back on their feet to rebuild their livelihood,” he wrote.
In January 2021, Raimondo approved disaster declarations for eight Alaska fisheries that were claimed between 2018 and last year.
Photo courtesy of Office of U.S. Rep. Garret Graves