Senators urge Obama to fund fishermen
In an effort to help fishing communities across the country, U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Lisa Murkowski are leading a bipartisan effort calling on the Obama administration to support emergency funding for fishery disasters that were declared in 2012.
On Sept. 13, a federal fishery disaster was declared for multiple groundfish species in the Northeast Atlantic as a result of severely low stocks of species such as cod and flounder. Six Northeast states have been significantly impacted by the disaster declaration, including Rhode Island.
In a letter to President Barack Obama, the bipartisan group of senators wrote, “We believe that it is the responsibility of the administration, after declaring these disasters, to request the funding to respond to them. Until funding is made available for these declarations, the affected fishermen will continue to struggle during a critical time of need. For those that are suffering and the fishing communities they live in, time is of the essence. They simply cannot wait for another funding cycle for help to arrive.”
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Reed worked to secure funding included in the Senate-passed emergency supplemental bill last year that would have provided $150 million to support fishery recovery efforts. Despite the bill passing 61-33 in the Senate with bipartisan support, it was blocked by House leadership.
“Fishing communities in Rhode Island and throughout the Northeast will be affected, directly and indirectly, by the groundfish disaster,” said Reed. “I want to restore this critical funding to ensure that appropriate assistance is available. I am pleased we were able to get strong, bipartisan support for this effort and I will continue fighting in Congress to help our state’s fishermen through these difficult times.”
In addition to the fishery disaster declared in the Northeast, disasters were declared for Chinook salmon in Alaska and commercial oyster and blue crab in Mississippi. Rhode Island’s junior senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, also signed the letter.