Bill Provides Gulf Oil Leak Disaster Fisheries Assistance

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Alexandria, VA - May 28, 2010 - The sportfishing industry applauds Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, for including funding for fishery-dependent businesses harmed by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the U.S. Senate's 2010 Supplemental Appropriations bill. The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) worked with Shelby's office to include language in the amendment recognizing the disaster's impact on recreational fishing-dependent businesses and the need for baseline information about the fisheries status and the impact on the Gulf eco-system. ASA also urged other Members of the Senate to support Shelby's amendment.

Shelby's amendment comes on the heels of the May 24, fisheries disaster declaration by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke. Upon a fisheries disaster declaration, Congress must appropriate funds for the affected communities.

The amendment includes:

  •        $15 million for the fisheries disaster declaration in the Gulf.
  •        $10 million for an expanded stock assessment of the Gulf fisheries, including, but not limited to, commercial and recreational catch and biological sampling, observer programs, data management and processing, conducting assessments and follow-up evaluations.
  •       $1 million for the Secretary of Commerce to require a National Academy of Sciences study on the long-term ecosystem service impacts of the spill on the Gulf.  In particular, it would assess long-term costs to water filtration, hunting, fishing (commercial and recreational) and other economic values associated with the Gulf.

"The sportfishing industry thanks Senator Shelby for recognizing the enormous scope of this disaster and introducing his amendment to the appropriations bill," said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. "Of the 2,300 tackle dealers in the Gulf region, at least 700 have been severely impacted economically by this disaster which will have a ripple effect throughout the industry."

"We have had a continuous dialog with the administration, Member of Congress, the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about the need and importance of specifically including recreational fishing-dependent businesses in any disaster assistance, as well as funding for fisheries monitoring and research," said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson. "We believe we've made progress with Senator Shelby's amendment in the appropriations bill and by Secretary Locke specifically mentioning recreational fishing in the fishery disaster declaration. We will continue to push for funding in the supplemental bill currently being considered by the House of Representatives."
ASA sent letters to Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations urging that they address and mitigate the impacts on the recreational fishing-dependent business community.

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