Graves seeks federal Fishery Disaster Determination for Louisiana

U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) recently urged the Biden administration to declare a Fishery Disaster Determination that would provide targeted relief to one of Louisiana’s most impacted sectors and help both commercial and recreational fishers begin to recover from myriad disasters.

“Our fishermen have taken a pounding over the last several years. Hurricanes, floods, unfair trade practices, over-regulation, and a global pandemic have delivered a major blow to our workforce and consumer demand,” Rep. Graves wrote in a Jan. 20 letter sent to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Helping these fisheries recover from natural disasters means accounting for everything from boats, marinas, ice houses, processing machinery, and storage.”

The congressman pointed to a recent economic assessment conducted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, entitled the Infrastructure, Revenue and Resource Losses to Louisiana Fisheries from the Hurricanes of 2020 and 2021, that he said verifies the impacts that Hurricanes Laura, Delta, Zeta, and Ida have had on the state’s industry and economy, according to his letter.

The report and supporting analysis “clearly demonstrates” that more than 8,500 businesses were impacted, resulting in $305 million in damage to fisheries infrastructures, such as marinas, docks, seafood processors, and dealers, Rep. Graves wrote, adding that combined with an additional $118 million in resource loss and $155 million revenue loss, the total estimated impact is $579 million. 

“Therefore, I again urge you to prioritize the review of this report and to expedite assistance by making a Fishery Disaster Determination” that would make available $200 million in federal funding for fisheries disaster assistance. Under law, only the Commerce Secretary can make this determination, according to Rep. Graves’ letter.

“The recovery doesn’t just happen overnight and for every additional day that the bureaucratic process drags on, our fishers and associated small businesses can’t get back on their feet to rebuild their livelihood,” wrote Rep. Graves.