U.S. Congressman Garret Graves announced today that Louisiana will receive an additional $58,343,185 in fishery disaster funding to offset the impacts of the 2019 Bonnet Carre Spillway opening on Louisiana’s fisheries and other impacts.
“After waiting an entire year, we finally have a chance to right some of the wrongs caused by last year’s high river event. South Louisianans know the disaster process all too well and for years they have been victimized by cumbersome bureaucracy. I appreciate the Department of Commerce allocating the majority of these disaster funds to Louisiana’s commercial, recreational/charter, processors and other stakeholders and urge the agency to expedite this process as much as possible to provide relief to our fishing industry,” Graves said.
Louisiana is eligible to receive this disaster assistance due to the previously declared disaster declarations for fishing communities by the U.S. Department of Commerce after Hurricane Michael. Congress appropriated $100 million in the 2019 Consolidated and Supplemental Appropriations Act to address the impact of excessive freshwater, the Bonnet Carre Spillway opening and other impacts in 2019. Louisiana’s share is two-thirds (2/3rds) of the total funding, the highest of the $88 million released today. There is a remaining $12 million to be allocated at a later date.
“The fact that Louisiana is receiving the majority of funds is appropriate. We have the biggest fishing industry, more impacts, and were short-changed by NOAA’s recent coronavirus allocation of funds for fishery impacts,” Graves said.
On February 28, 2020, Graves called for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to allocate the remaining $100 million available in fisheries disaster assistance to Louisiana. Graves followed up again on April 2, 2020, sending a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross – a follow-up to the letter sent on February 27th – once again urging Sec. Ross to allocate the remaining fisheries disaster assistance to Louisiana. The follow-up letter was sent after the Bonnet Carre Spillway was opened on April 3, 2020, for the third year in a row.
Fishery Disaster Name
About the funds:
Funds can be used to address a range of impacts including impacts to commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen, charter businesses, subsistence users, processors, shore-side infrastructure, and the fishing ecosystem and environment. Activities that can be considered for funding include infrastructure projects, habitat restoration, state-run vessel and fishing permit buybacks, and job retraining.
Background on Graves Working toward Relief for Fisheries during COVID-19:
On May 7, 2020, Graves released a statement regarding the abysmal $14,785,244 allocated to Louisiana fisheries to mitigate the economic hardships accrued by the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress included $300 million to address impacts to recreational and commercial fishers who have been negatively affected by COVID–19. Only 4.9 percent of the available funds was provided to Louisiana despite being one of the top fisheries states in the nation. To read more about the U.S. Department of Commerce allocation process and a summary of allocations, click here.
On April 6, 2020, Graves secured a commitment for up to up to 20 million pounds of U.S. shrimp to be purchased from Louisiana and Gulf Coast shrimpers and processors by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Graves sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue thanking him for directing the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the USDA for purchasing the wild-caught, warm-water shrimp landed in the US. Graves has worked with the USDA, AMS and the American Shrimp Processors Association on this purchase throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response efforts.