Graves: Louisiana seafood industry shortchanged in federal aid

    Louisiana fishers and others in the industry will receive $12.5 million in federal aid to help offset financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Houma Courier reports

    It’s part of a $255 million package approved by Congress in December as part of a larger COVID-19 relief and budget bill.

    “Our priority is to award these funds as quickly as possible using existing processes established under the CARES Act,” says Paul Doremus, acting assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries, in a recent announcement. 

    An analysis released by Doremus’ organization in January found 94% of commercial fishers in the Gulf of Mexico reported losses during the first half of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. The average revenue loss was 56%. 

    This is the second round of money aimed at helping fishers weather the downturn in business caused by the pandemic. Last year, Louisiana received $14.8 million from the CARES Act, which included about $300 million to aid the fishing industry throughout the U.S. Federal officials say the process for the fishing and seafood industry businesses to receive the funding will work similarly to the one followed after the CARES Act.  

    However, U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, says both measures have shortchanged Louisiana fishers. In both federal aid packages, Louisiana received 4.9% of the total aid despite having one of the nation’s largest fisheries, he says. 

    Under the latest measure, Graves notes, Washington state will receive $40 million and Florida $19 million, though the value of Louisiana’s seafood landings is 50% higher than either state. Read the full story.