US Sen. Kennedy calls for permanent relief fund for fishing industry

    U.S. Sen. John Kennedy and other Gulf Coast legislators are calling for a permanent taxpayer-supported safety net for the fishing industry. 

    The Commercial Fishing and Aquaculture Protection Act of 2019, introduced by U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Mississippi, does not carry an explicit price tag, The Center Square reports, Kennedy’s public statement in support of the bill compares the proposal to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “well-established” disaster programs for farmers.

    “The shrimp and oyster seasons produced significantly lower yields on average this year due to disastrous freshwater intrusions in the Gulf,” Kennedy says. “We need to give our fishing industry a break. This legislation will establish a program to help fishermen cope with disaster conditions like these.”

    USDA reportedly is preparing an open enrollment for a $3 billion aid package for farmers and ranchers. Enrollment is expected to begin by late August or early September.

    “Farmers and ranchers who experience serious losses have access to well-established USDA programs to help them survive down years,” Hyde-Smith says. “Commercial fishermen, including aquaculture operations, do not have that option.” 

    The Mississippi River’s current “92-year flood record,” leading to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ unprecedented decision to open the Bonnet Carré Spillway twice in one year, disrupted many types of aquatic life vital to Louisiana’s seafood industry, the delegation’s letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross says.  

    On July 8, Louisiana’s congressional delegation joined Gov. John Bel Edwards and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser in asking Ross for a federal disaster declaration for the state’s fisheries, which would allow Congress to appropriate money for relief. Read the full story. 

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