Reps. Huffman & Speier Announce Long-Awaited Allocation of Federal Disaster Support to California Fishing Communities

April 29, 2019

Washington, D.C.- Representatives Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) today announced that $29.65 million in long-awaited federal assistance will be finally delivered on June 1st to North Coast fishing communities that suffered major economic impacts due to fisheries disasters dating back to 2015. Huffman, the Chair of the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife, has helped lead the congressional effort to secure these federal disaster payments.

“Tribes, hardworking fishermen, their families, and coastal communities have been stuck in limbo for far too long waiting for the federal support they deserve,” said Rep. Huffman. “Congress provided this disaster relief funding more than a year ago, but the Trump administration has dragged out the process. Their delays and roadblocks have added unnecessary pain for the tribes and fishing communities who are already dealing with closed fisheries and serious economic hardship.”

“I’m relieved that the unnecessary wait for disaster relief for fishermen and tribes is finally coming to an end,” said Rep. Speier. “The closed Dungeness crab season in 2015-2016 and the closed king salmon season for the Yurok tribe in 2016 put existential hardship on these hard-working fishermen and women and their families. While this money won’t end their challenges for future fishing seasons it will at least help them to stay in an industry that is shaping our coastal communities.”

In 2016 and 2017, Reps. Huffman and Speier introduced legislation to appropriate funding for fisheries disasters and respond to the economic hardship that followed the closure of several fisheries in California, including the commercial crab season, which affected all 570 Dungeness crab permit holders, due to toxic algae and the Yurok salmon fishery.

In February 2018, Congress finally appropriated $200 million in fishery disaster funding to address fishery failures and fishery resource disasters declared nationwide in 2017, a list that included both the 2016 Yurok Klamath River Chinook salmon commercial fishery disaster and the 2015-2016 California Commercial Dungeness crab and rock crab disasters.

The 2018 fisheries disaster funding was provided to the Department of Commerce, and in March 2018 Huffman and Speier led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross calling on him to quickly send the provided aid to West Coast fishing communities.

When the fishery disaster funding ran into additional delays earlier this year, Rep. Huffman wrote to the then-director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, demanding an explanation for the “significant, unreasonable delays” in the funding and called on him to immediately approve the funding.

That federal funding, now finally announced, will be provided in June to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission to distribute to individuals and businesses dependent on fishing.