U.S. Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) 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:
- 2019 Gulf of Mexico Freshwater Flooding (Louisiana)
- 2019 Gulf of Mexico Freshwater Flooding (Mississippi)
- 2019 Gulf of Mexico Freshwater Flooding (Alabama)
- Total: $88,301,898
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.