A temporary funding solution has been found for the Department of Marine Resources to operate over the holiday weekend, but the battle for funding still continues.
The state department responsible for everything marine-related on the Coast continues to face a budget battle.
As a result of a legislative battle over funding and the start of the new fiscal year on Wednesday, the Department of Marine Resources temporarily shut down, bringing critical resources and partnerships to a halt. Institute for Marine Mammal Studies President Dr. Moby Solangi said, “We have a 40-year relationship with DMR in responding to sick and injured marine mammals and turtles. We also do a lot of work with them in fisheries and environmental assessment.”
Governor Tate Reeves announced in a tweet today that temporary funding has been secured for DMR to operate in the short term, but a permanent budget for the agency still needs to be agreed upon. “It’s all over a political fight between the House and the Senate, and I hope and I pray and I believe that they will get it resolved sooner rather than later.”
Fifth-generation fisherman Ryan Bradley is concerned about the inability for fishermen to receive critical funding if this budget battle continues. “We are 2019 Bonnet Carre Spillway money, we have CARES Act money that is pending, that has to be distributed to fishermen, and so that’s going to hurt charter fishermen, it’s going to hurt recreational fishermen, it’s going to hurt commercial fishermen.”
While things such as the expiration date for commercial and charter fishing licenses have been extended until July 15th, Bradley encourages his fellow fishermen to hang in there until funding can be permanently secured. “We’re going to work hard to make sure when DMR does get back up and going that they timely work on getting the funds distributed out to the people who need them.”
DMR partners like the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies stress the importance of the agency’s continued work on the Coast. “It’s a critical agency for the Gulf Coast and managing our marine resources. So, we hope that all these issues will be taken care of as soon as possible.”