The Louisiana Fishing Community Recovery Coalition with the full support of the Louisiana Congressional Delegation has approached the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in regard to the Fisheries Disaster Assistance just appropriated by Congress for hurricane recovery of the five Gulf States.
The coalition urged NOAA to attend to the law in their allocation of the $85 million. The Magnuson-Stevens Act of 2006 (the law of concern) states that funds are to be disbursed based on need and that need is to be defined as percentage of the fishery catch landed. The act in part states, "NOAA shall allocate funds ...in proportion to the percentage of the fishery catch landed by each state."
Coalition Co-Chair Mike Voisin stated, "The Coalition is calling on NOAA to make sure that allocations follow the law and are fair and equitable in relation to need."
According to National Marine Fisheries Service data, Louisiana provides 74 percent of the Gulf of Mexico fishery catch. However, a chart of NOAA's proposed allocations indicates that Louisiana would receive $37 million, which is $25 million short of 74 percent of the total.
Coalition Co-Chair Harlon Pearce stated that the need is undeniable in Louisiana and that the fishing industry is not close to full recovery. "After all," Pearce emphasized, "Louisiana is the state that got hit by both hurricanes. Those horrific storms made landfall on the Louisiana coast."
Voisin added, "Not that the other states don't have problems. However, this is not enough money to solve everybody's problems. In these matters, it's important to follow the law and the original intent of Congress in providing the assistance."
In a letter to Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr. U.S. Navy (Ret.), the Louisiana Congressional Delegation wrote, "We respectfully request that you distribute these funds as expeditiously as possible to the areas where the need is the most critical, as Congress explicitly intended."
For more information, contact Mike Voisin at 985-868-7191 or Harlon Pearce at 504-382-9805.