Aug 01 2019
Miss. Senator’s Legislation Would Expedite Disaster Relief for Fisheries
WASHINGTON – This week U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, introduced the “Fishery Failures: Urgently Needed Disaster Declarations (Fishery FUNDD) Act.” The legislation would reform the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA)’s Fishery Resource Disaster Relief program, making improvements to provide fishermen with disaster relief more quickly.
Here is what Mississippi officials and coastal groups are saying about the legislation:
Governor Phil Bryant: “I appreciate Senator Wicker’s support for the Mississippi Gulf Coast and our hard working fishermen. These changes will certainly improve the process for Federal Fisheries Disaster Declarations and will provide much needed assistance in a timely manner to those affected.”
Mayor Billy Hewes, Gulfport: “The farmers in coastal regions are known as fishermen. On the Gulf Coast they have experienced, firsthand, the adverse impacts to the Mississippi Sound resulting from a protracted opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway. The release of huge volumes of river water into our fragile ecosystem has had a devastating effect on fish stocks, oyster reefs, and shrimp and crab harvests. This event has also caused a severe blow to our overall tourism economy. Any act that will eliminate bureaucratic roadblocks by hastening response time for relief to impacted communities is appreciated. Federal fisheries measures should not only take into account actions that keep our seafood industry and workers viable today, but also provide for protection and restoration of marine habitats where seafood is caught, in order to ensure future harvests.”
Mayor Dane Maxwell, Pascagoula: “I am proud of Senator Wicker and his leadership to correct this destructive situation for the Mississippi Coast. He is taking much needed action to address a system built in the 1930’s and bring it to the 21st Century.”
Mayor Mike Smith, Waveland: “The City of Waveland is the southwesternmost city on the Gulf Coast and in direct line of the Bonnet Carré Spillway and every Fisherman, Crabber and Oysterman, as well as the charter captains, have suffered tremendously and some are closing. Please help save our hardworking seafood suppliers that we depend on for fresh local seafood!”
Mayor Mike Favre, Bay St. Louis: “Located directly on the Gulf of Mexico, many citizens of Bay St. Louis and our surrounding communities rely on the Maritime Industry as an economic driver. It is of utmost importance to get immediate assistance to our fishing industry to remedy the direct economic impact the city and industry has felt this year. The spillway disaster has crippled our fishing industry, destroyed the ecosystem, and scientists state that recovery will take many years. We need to be proactive in offering help, and I fully support Senator Wicker’s Fishery Failures: Urgently Needed Disaster Declaration Act.”
Mayor Chipper McDermott, Pass Christian: “Although this has been the worst year for seafood due to the longevity of the opening of the spillway, we in this seafood town have been affected by the spillway openings for the last 5 years with the loss of our oyster industry having a major effect on all our fishermen. They have had their way of life as close to being destroyed as possible, and that in turn has affected all of us here.”
Mayor George Bass, Long Beach: “Along the Gulf Coast, fishing is a way of life in our coastal communities, whether it is fishing for pleasure or business. It is vital to our area that we protect our waters, fishermen, and our seafood industry. I fully support the Fishery FUNDD Act.”
Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich, Biloxi: "This bill would greatly expedite the flow of federal recovery dollars to the people most in need - our fishermen, oystermen, shrimpers, and crabbers. The overwhelming destruction caused to our fisheries by the historic intrusion of contaminated waters from the Mississippi River has financially devastated those whose livelihoods depend on seasonal seafood harvesting. This bill would at least provide some initial recovery, but also confirm our fishermen's place in the restoration of our habitat.”
Mayor Shea Dobson, Ocean Springs: “This Bill will go a long way in ensuring communities facing disasters are able to get the relief they desperately need. As a community located on the Gulf Coast, we understand far too well how destructive mother nature can be and the necessity for resources in our time of need.”
Mayor Mario King, Moss Point: "Your leadership and work to expedite emergency funding for the disastrous impact of the opening of the Bonnet Carré is the most recent example of your tenacious and ongoing support of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Senator, and we thank you!"
Glenn McCullough, Jr., Executive Director, Mississippi Development Authority: “We at the Mississippi Development Authority salute Chairman Wicker’s leadership to reform NOAA’s Fishery Disaster Relief Program. The Mississippi Gulf Coast is strategically vital to our state’s economy, so it’s important that our federal, state and local partners work together as one team to ensure that the Gulf Coast is a vibrant Mississippi destination for industry and tourism.”
Joe Spraggins, Executive Director, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources: “Our agency fully supports any legislation that would speed up the process for restoring Mississippi’s fisheries. Those affected by the freshwater intrusion in Mississippi’s waters need immediate assistance and streamlining that process would be a great starting point for their recovery.”
Dr. William (Monty) Graham, Associate Vice President for Research, Coastal Operations, The University of Southern Mississippi: "On the coast in Mississippi, our fishing communities have taken the brunt of the impact due to freshwater and harmful blooms of algae following the recent openings of the Bonnet Carré Spillway. This is absolutely critical legislation to help community recovery and restoration of the resource, and it takes a much needed regional view of fisheries disasters."
Ryan Bradley, Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United: “Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United is pleased to support Senator Roger Wicker’s Fishery Failures: Urgently Needed Disaster Declarations (Fishery FUNDD) Act. This much-needed reform to the nation’s antiquated fishery disaster relief program is crucial to protecting our coastal communities and ensuring that those most impacted by fishery disasters can receive the timely assistance they so desperately need. An ecological disaster of epic proportions has unfolded along the Mississippi and Louisiana Coasts this year due to historic flooding and in turn, has threatened both the livelihoods and sustainability of entire communities. The Fishery FUNDD Act will ensure America’s blue economy can continue to thrive in the face of unprecedented fishery disasters.”
Dr. David Veal, Executive Director, American Shrimp Processors Association (ASPA): “ASPA applauds Senator Wicker’s effort to reform the fisheries disaster declaration process. Current procedures don’t address the acute harm caused by natural and man-made fishing disasters. The Fishery FUNDD Act imposes much needed timelines and allows direct assistance funding for the harvesters and processors who bear the brunt of the economic harm.”
Chris Nelson and Al Sunseri, Co-Chairs, Gulf Oyster Industry Council: “We appreciate Senator Wicker’s leadership in reforming and making more timely the fishery disaster relief process with this thoughtful legislation. In the interim, we support his and other Gulf Coast Senators and Representatives efforts to secure fisheries disaster assistance this year in response to the Mississippi River flooding now damaging our oyster and other coastal fisheries.”
Click here for more information about the legislation.