Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both D-Connecticut, are asking the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration assistant administrator to be transparent, expedient and fair in determining how Fishery Disaster Assistance funding is allocated to fishermen and seafood processors across the country, and urged the agency to consider a minimum allocation for smaller coastal states.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has devastated fisheries, fisheries distributors, and fisheries processors, who are experiencing severe economic losses as domestic purchasing has plunged and exports have slowed. With limited capital, fishing communities — business owners, crews and processing plant workers — are facing unforeseen financial hardships that put their livelihoods at risk.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act appropriated $300 million to NOAA for fishery disaster assistance. However, NOAA and the Office of Management and Budget are still considering how to distribute these funds among impacted fishing states. Without a minimum allocation, larger operations may receive a disproportionate amount of available funds, leaving struggling small businesses in states like Delaware and Connecticut with little help — and little recourse.
“As NOAA continues its process of determining how it will distribute this critical funding, we urge you to be as transparent and communicative as possible and to engage a wide range of fishery participants,” the senators wrote.
“Further, we strongly urge you to consider a minimum allocation for small, coastal states,” the senators continued. “Doing so will protect struggling small fishing operations that might be underserved if funding is distributed in proportion to the value of commercial fisheries in each state without instituting a minimum allocation. We fear that any allocation to states based solely on commercial landings may not accurately reflect where our fishermen live and work.”
The full text of the letter is available at bit.ly/2KQigJZ.