The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service announced on Thursday that $75 million has been appropriated by Congress to restore six fisheries across the United States. As part of the Fiscal Year 2014 federal budget, the funds will go toward restoring devastated fisheries previously declared disasters by the Department of Commerce in the last two years. According to NOAA, the funds will also be used to prevent similar failures in the future and to assist commercial and recreational fishing communities affected by the disaster.
The six fisheries to receive funding are:
- American Samoa fisheries after a 2009 tsunami caused widespread damage. Fisheries here are expected to be given $1 million in aid.
- Mississippi River fisheries after a 2011 flood. More than $10 million is expected to be allocated here.
- Florida oyster fisheries after a 2012 drought. More than $6 million is expected to be spent.
- New Jersey and New York fisheries after 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. More than $3 million is expected be spent here.
- Alaska’s faltering Chinook salmon fisheries is expected to receive more than $20 million in aid.
- New England’s mulitspecies groundfish fishery takes the largest sum in relief aid with an expected $32 million.
“Our nation’s fisheries are critically important to the lives and livelihoods of many communities,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “NOAA Fisheries will work with affected communities, states and tribes as quickly as possible to ensure that the disaster relief funding gets allocated as quickly as possible.”
As federal grants, the NOAA will be working closely with the recipients to draw up spending plans and to make sure all requirements are met. Once allocated, recipient fisheries will have broad flexibility in how to spend the funds, as long as they are used toward restoring the fishery and assisting the fishing community.
It is welcome news to hard-hit commercial fishermen and outfitters in these areas, such as Alaska’s Yukon-Kuskowkim and Cook Inlet. Meager salmon runs in these areas over the past few years have caused much concern with fishermen.
Image courtesy NOAA