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Alaska Delegation Introduces FISHES Act to Strengthen Fisheries Disaster Relief

02/05/24

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced legislation to improve the federal process related to the Delivery of fishery products introduced disaster relief. Reps. Mary Sattler Peltola (D-Alaska) and Byron Donalds (R-Florida) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives last year. The Fisheries Improvement Act to Streamline Early Post-Emergency Regulatory Hurdles (FISHES Act) seeks to expedite the distribution of federal disaster assistance following reports of fishing disasters.

Joining the Senators and Representatives as bipartisan co-sponsors are Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.), Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), Troy Carter (D-La.), Troy Nehls (R-Texas), James Moylan (R-Guam), John Rutherford (R-Fla.), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R -America Samoa), Clay Higgins (R-La.) and Brian Mast (R-Fla.).

Sen. Murkowski said, “Alaska's fisheries have faced ongoing challenges in recent years – and we are likely to experience even more in the future.” From the Yukon River to Prince William Sound to the Bering Sea, nearly every fishery has relied on disaster assistance to navigate these difficult times survive. Unfortunately, these fishermen often wait years for this relief. This common-sense approach provides timelines for agency reviews so Alaskans get the help they need, when they need it.”

Sen. Sullivan said, “Alaska's fishing industry has endured a very difficult few years, exacerbated by an unprecedented number of fishing disasters that have affected all parts of our state.” While relief funds have been critical in helping our fishermen, in the In most cases, it took far too long for relief funds to be approved and reach affected Alaskans. Senator Scott and I are introducing legislation that would establish deadlines for the executive branch approval process so that our fishing communities don't have to wait years for the federal relief they deserve and can continue to responsibly harvest the freshest, most sustainable seafood in the world.”

Representative Peltola said, “Alaska fish and our fishing communities support our economy and support the livelihoods of countless families. Alaskans cannot afford delays when a disaster strikes – that’s why I’m proud to represent this bill in the House.”

Sen. Scott said: “When disaster strikes, families and small businesses must not wonder whether the federal government will show up. Floridians know this better than anyone. The federal government must step in and get people the help they need as quickly as possible while they work to get back on their feet. Now that hurricane season is upon us, it is time to prepare and I am asking Congress to pass this legislation as quickly as possible to ensure that our fishing industry in Florida and across the country has a trusted partner in Washington. “

Sen. Rubio said, “Arbitrary bureaucratic delays in congressionally authorized fishing disasters prevent businesses from getting back on their feet.” This bill will cut red tape to allow these Florida businesses to receive disaster relief in an appropriate and expeditious manner following a federal disaster such as a hurricane. “

Congressman Donalds said: “Hurricane Ian caused catastrophic devastation to the Southwest Florida fishing industry, the effects of which are still ongoing. Waterways are the lifeblood of our economy and our communities. It has always been my commitment to advocate for the vitality of water – ultimately benefiting countless families, businesses and the overall development of Florida's 19th Congressional District. I am proud to have introduced the bipartisan FISHES Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and I thank Senator Scott for introducing this important bill in the U.S. Senate.”

Specifically, the FISHES law applies:

  • The goal is to improve federal regulatory processes related to fisheries disaster assistance funding within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB); And
  • Reduces red tape by establishing a 30-day decision deadline for OMB to reject/approve a state's spending plan, which will ultimately expedite the overall funding process for federal fisheries disaster assistance.

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Anna Harden

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