January 17, 2014

Gillibrand Announces $75 Million in Federal Fishery Disaster Relief

Senator Fought for Funding, Called for Emergency Financial Relief for Long Island Fishermen

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the Omnibus Appropriations bill, which passed Congress last night, includes $75 million in federal funding for fishery disaster relief. Last November, Senator Gillibrand aggressively lobbied members of the Appropriations Committee to provide emergency disaster relief in this year’s spending bill. Federal funding would be used to provide fishermen vital help including support for emergency financial assistance, operational costs where necessary, economic development programs, and science initiatives to manage the fishery in a timely way.

“New York’s coastal communities were ravaged by Superstorm Sandy, which came on the heels of a fishery disaster, jeopardizing New York’s fishing industry and leaving many Long Island fishermen in dire straits,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This federal investment will go a long way towards helping our local fishermen and their families recover and rebuild, and I will fight to ensure that New York gets its fair share.”

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will work closely with members of Congress and the governors of impacted states to develop financial assistance plans to help coastal communities and the fishing industry.

Last year, Senator Gillibrand pointed out that federal resources still needed to deal with the impact a series of disasters had on communities across Long Island.  In November 2012, a federal disaster declaration was issued for New York’s fishing communities was issued in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy at the urging of Senator Gillibrand and her colleagues. Lawmakers requested emergency relief after a recent preliminary report projected significant cuts—up to 70 percent— in catch limits for New England groundfish stocks in 2013. These cuts to multispecies fishery, such as cod and yellowtail flounder, would harm Long Island’s businesses and fishermen, who are already struggling and being squeezed by catch limits and tighter regulations.

In September 13, 2012, U.S. Department of Commerce declared a federal groundfish fishery disaster for New York’s fishing communities.   Despite fishermen’s strict adherence to federal management practices, reductions in the total allowable catch for certain critical groundfish stocks are having a significant impact on coastal communities, fishing families, and local economies, leaving many historic fishing communities on the brink of extinction.