Click HERE to read Senator Collins’ letter to Secretary Ross
Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins wrote to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, urging him to quickly release the $300 million for assistance to fishermen and related businesses that was included in the Phase 3 coronavirus emergency package. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins worked to ensure that this critical relief provision was inserted in the final legislation.
“The seafood and aquaculture industries are experiencing severe financial harm from disruptions to supply, demand, and labor caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who make their livelihoods harvesting, transporting, processing, distributing, and preparing the bounty of our oceans have incredibly complex and inter-reliant business models,” said Senator Collins.
“I am pleased that, as a result of my and other coastal state members’ advocacy, the Assistance to Fishery Participants provision was included in the CARES Act to provide relief that is targeted specifically for these iconic and essential engines of Maine’s economy,” Senator Collins continued. “It is critical that the $300 million in fishery-related assistance reach those who need it expeditiously in order to manage this period of uncertainty and emerge as strong as before.”
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will be responsible for releasing this funding. Senator Collins requested that:
- NOAA work with regional fisheries management commissions to distribute the funds to coastal states;
- Each state is given reasonable flexibility to distribute money in the ways that will best benefit fishermen and their communities;
- NMFS use comparative methods and averages that span multiple years—as is common with other fisheries disaster calculations—to allocate funding; and
- NMFS continue to move quickly to get relief funds out to the states, and require states to submit a spending plan to achieve accountability.
Click HERE to read Senator Collins’ letter to Secretary Ross.