SSA continues to assist U.S. shrimp fisheries in the development of fishery disaster assistance requests and once those requests for a fishery disaster declaration are submitted by fishing community leaders and/or the Governors of affected States to the Secretary of Commerce pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens fishery Conservation and Management Act, and the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act.
Often the focus of these efforts is to press the Administration, either directly through SSA’s contacts or through key House and Senate offices in Congress, to expedite both the process of the Secretary declaring the disaster and the process of Congress appropriating the funds to provide the assistance. While these are often complex and time-consuming processes that must meet certain criteria, the impacts of these fishery disasters are severe and demand rapid response if the affected fishing industries are to survive.
Most recently, SSA is currently working with NOAA and key Congressional offices to address this timeliness issue relative to the fishery disaster declaration requests submitted to the Secretary of Commerce Wilber Ross by Governor Bryant of Mississippi, Governor Edwards of Louisiana and Governor Ivey of Alabama, regarding the devastating impacts of the diversion of freshwater flood waters from the Mississippi river through the Bonnet Carre’ Spillway into Lake Ponchartrain, coastal Louisiana, and further east into coastal Mississippi and Alabama.
On one front, SSA is pressing NOAA officials to expedite the Secretary’s disaster declarations. On another, SSA has engaged on 2 pieces of legislation introduced by Louisiana Senator Kennedy and Mississippi Senators Hyde-Smith and Wicker intended to improve the disaster declaration and assistance process including its timeliness. These effort are relatively early in the process, but if and when those Bonnet Carre’ Spillway fishery disaster declarations are made by the Secretary, SSA will then work to secure Congressional appropriations to fund the assistance requests in a timely manner.