WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today commended committee passage of the “Fishery Failures: Urgently Needed Disaster Declarations (Fishery FUNDD) Act.” Wicker’s legislation would reform the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fishery Resource Disaster Relief program of the National Marine Fisheries Service, making improvements to expedite relief for fishermen during fishery disasters.
“People along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast have seen firsthand the wide-ranging effects a fishery disaster can have on a local community,” Wicker said. “This legislation would make important reforms to the federal government’s disaster declaration process, ensuring those affected receive relief more quickly. This vote affirms the importance of getting this legislation to the President’s desk without delay.”
Wicker’s Fishery FUNDD Act would streamline the fisheries disaster declaration process by holding the federal government accountable to deadlines to get funding distributed in a timely manner. It would also allow for disaster funding to go directly to members of the fishing community.
Among other provisions, the bill would:
- Maintain the authority of the Secretary of Commerce to determine the existence of a fishery disaster, after which the Secretary would make funds available to be used by state or regional groups to assess the impacts of the disaster and conduct other activities that support fishing activity;
- Assign a 120-day timeline for the Secretary to evaluate a request, either upon receipt or immediately after the close of the fishery season; and
- List the eligible uses of fishery disaster relief funds, including direct payments to affected members of the fishing community, habitat restoration and conservation, management improvements, job training, public information campaigns, and preventative measures for future disasters. It would prioritize hiring fishermen displaced by the fishery disaster for these tasks.
Wicker introduced the legislation in July.
To read the full bill, click here.