U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Representative Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., today announced that $21,311,804 in federal fishery disaster relief funds has been allocated for Mississippi.
The U.S. Department of Commerce aid is being distributed in response to a prolonged period of freshwater inundation into the Gulf of Mexico that devastated Gulf Coast fisheries last year. The funds will be distributed by the state to cover losses by fishermen, aquaculture businesses, and seafood processors.
“These funds are welcome news for the many fishermen who suffered through last year’s unprecedented opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway, but our state deserves a long-term solution to disasters like these. I am working to reform the disaster relief process so that funds can be distributed quickly and directly to the people who need them most. I am also pushing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider alternatives to opening the Bonnet Carré Spillway so that we can minimize the risk of these disasters in the future,” said Wicker, who is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.
“These funds will begin supporting the ongoing recovery efforts from the devastation caused by the extended opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway last year. While we appreciate this assistance in our recovery, we must reform the way federal fisheries disasters are evaluated and approved,” said Palazzo, who is a member of the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee on Appropriations. “As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I remain committed to allocating resources that will help restore our way of life in south Mississippi.”
Today’s announcement came months after the legislators announced that the Department of Commerce had approved then-Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant’s June 2019 request for a disaster declaration for the flooding in the Gulf.
The funds are being made available through an allocation of $150 million set aside last year in an emergency relief bill for the Department of Commerce to mitigate designated fishery disasters.