As Congress returns from the campaign trail to Washington, DC this week, the Marine Fish Conservation Network is underscoring the urgent need for fisheries disaster funding to be addressed in the upcoming ‘lame duck’ session by calling upon Congress to provide relief to struggling fishermen.

In September, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank issued disaster declarations for the New England groundfish fishery, the Chinook salmon fishery in parts of Alaska and oyster and blue crabs in Mississippi. Subsequent to that, fisheries in New York and New Jersey were devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Just yesterday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie formally submitted a federal disaster declaration request on behalf of his state.

Matt Tinning, Executive Director of the Marine Fish Conservation Network, issued the following statement:

“Our nation’s fishermen work hard every day to bring healthy and sustainable seafood to America’s restaurants and homes. In recent years many have also made short-term sacrifices in order to end overfishing and rebuild overfished stocks. Their sacrifices and the investments that the public has made to manage their fisheries have made US fisheries among the most sustainable in the world.

“The fisheries disasters declared by NOAA earlier this year cover a wide cross section of US fisheries, from salmon in Alaska to oysters in Mississippi and the equally iconic New England cod. However these fisheries might vary in location, what they share is that they are in dire straits due to external, climactic shocks that have nothing to do with wrongdoing on the part of fishermen themselves.

Like farmers, our nation’s fishermen work in a high risk natural environment to put healthy, sustainable food on American’s tables. When their livelihoods are threatened through no fault of their own, our nation must respond to this as it does to other natural disasters—with targeted and temporary assistance that delivers some measure of relief.”

You can read the Network’s full letter urging Senators and Members of Congress to take action here.

Logo courtesy Marine Fish Conservation Network

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