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Huffman, Case, Cunningham, Graves Advocate for Fisheries Relief in Bipartisan Letter

Calls on Commerce Department to Expedite CARES Act Assistance

April 09, 2020

San Rafael, CA ­– Today, Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA), Ed Case (D-HI), Joe Cunningham (D-SC), and Garret Graves (R-LA) led 35 of their colleagues in a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce urging immediate distribution of the assistance secured by Congress in the CARES Act to fishery participants, including Tribal, subsistence, commercial, and charter fishery participants. Representative Huffman currently serves as Chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife which has jurisdiction over fisheries.

“We write to urge you to quickly implement the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which provides $300 million for fishery participants facing unprecedented and severe impacts due to the novel coronavirus,” the members wrote in their letter. “Due to the ongoing public health crisis, fisheries dependent businesses and communities are facing extreme economic hardship from loss of markets […] Furthermore, many tribal and non-tribal communities impacted by the ongoing crisis have also faced fishery disasters in recent years with long delays in disaster relief, so they are especially threatened by additional economic hardship […] Rapid relief is critical now for the future of coastal communities, our constituents, and a thriving fishing industry. ”

As part of their letter, the Representatives requested that the Department of Commerce ensure a transparent and fair process for distributing the CARES Act relief and provide detailed guidance for requests, explicit timelines for review and distribution of funds, and clear standards for decision making and funding allocations.

Representative Huffman has been a career-long advocate for fishing communities and Tribes, and has continuously pushed for fishery disaster relief funding. Earlier this year, Huffman introduced the bipartisan Fishery Failures: Urgently Needed Disaster Declarations Act (Fishery FUNDD Act) to improve the federal fishery disaster process and ensure more timely disaster relief for impacted communities. 

In addition to Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA), Ed Case (D-HI), Joe Cunningham (D-SC), and Garret Graves (R-LA), the letter was signed by Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), Clay Higgins (R-LA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), David Rouzer (R-NC), Don Young (R-AK), Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Steven M. Palazzo (R-MS), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), Denny Heck (D-WA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Elaine G. Luria (D-VA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), William R. Keating (D-MA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Charlie Crist (D-FL), Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA), Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Suzan K. DelBene (D-WA), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA).

The full letter can be found ?here? or below.? 

Dear Secretary Ross:

We write to urge you to quickly implement the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which provides $300 million for fishery participants facing unprecedented and severe impacts due to the novel coronavirus. We ask that you work with NOAA, impacted stakeholders, and Native American Tribes to rapidly provide this assistance and to do so in a fair and transparent process that allocates sufficient funding to our impacted constituents and communities throughout the country.

U.S. commercial and recreational fisheries generate over $200 billion in sales and 1.7 million jobs, but due to the ongoing public health crisis, fisheries dependent businesses and communities are facing extreme economic hardship from loss of markets. These impacts are felt throughout the industry – charter guides and recreational businesses; processors, retailers, and the entire seafood supply chain; and fishing captains, their crews, and the communities they serve are all facing significant challenges. The U.S. is a global leader in sustainable fisheries management and has a rich fishing history and culture, but significant loss of economic activity threatens the future of fisheries and associated infrastructure throughout the country.

The crisis has also significantly impacted Tribes who rely on fisheries for cultural, subsistence, and commercial harvest. Fisheries assistance is critical to mitigate the direct economic impacts these communities are facing and ensure they have adequate resources to continue providing basic services for their communities throughout this crisis. Furthermore, many tribal and non-tribal communities impacted by the ongoing crisis have also faced fishery disasters in recent years with long delays in disaster relief, so they are especially threatened by additional economic hardship.

We urge you to work quickly to ensure that fishery participants and the communities they support see this financial assistance as soon as possible. We also ask that you ensure a transparent and fair process for distributing this relief and provide detailed guidance for requests, explicit timelines for review and distribution of funds, and clear standards for decision making and funding allocations. Rapid relief is critical now for the future of coastal communities, our constituents, and a thriving fishing industry.

Thank you for your work during this time.

Sincerely,

— Members of Congress —

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