May 24 2010
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member on the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, today released the following statement regarding Commerce Department Secretary Gary Locke’s declaration of a fisheries disaster in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill:
“This disaster declaration is fully appropriate and absolutely necessary,” said Shelby. “Alabama’s fishing industry is a core component of our state’s economy. Through no fault of their own, Alabama’s fishermen will be adversely impacted by this oil spill for years to come. It is imperative that they receive adequate assistance to mitigate the effects of this man-made disaster on their businesses. I look forward to working with my colleagues to appropriate funding for this purpose as expeditiously as possible.”
On May 18, 2010, Shelby wrote a letter to Secretary Locke to request a fisheries disaster declaration.
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and the Interjurisdictional Fishery Act (IFA) provide for potential Federal financial assistance to address commercial fishery failures due to a fishery resource disaster at the request of a governor of an affected state or the Secretary of Commerce’s discretion. Fishery disaster determinations are made by the Secretary of Commerce. Both statutes have stipulated criteria for these determinations, but generally require a commercial fishery failure or serious disruption affecting future production as a result of a fishery resource disaster of natural, undetermined, or man-made causes that are beyond the control of fisheries managers. If a disaster is determined by the Secretary of Commerce, Congress must appropriate funds for the affected communities.