State Rolls Out Nearly $8 Million to Seafood Dealers

Release Date: 02/15/2011

Feb. 15, 2011 - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), in coordination with the Office of Community Development (OCD) - Disaster Recovery Unit, and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF), began distributing nearly $8 million last month for the Wholesale, Dealer, Broker Grant Program, a federally funded program aimed at aiding certain fisheries-related businesses that were affected by hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

“Our fishing communities have spent the last five years battling back from disaster after disaster. Each time, they find a way to rebuild and get back to work. This program is an incredible opportunity to help our fishing communities continue to recover from hurricanes Gustav and Ike,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. “We are grateful to our state and industry partners for helping us make distributing assistance funds a reality.”

The $8 million Wholesale, Dealer, Broker Grant Program was designed to assist certain fishery-related businesses that were in the industry in 2008 and currently remain in business. In order to qualify, businesses were required to provide supporting tax documentation and to be able to document a minimum $15,000 tangible loss or decline in business. Once grant qualifications were met, applicants became eligible for a grant of the amount of their loss, not to exceed $100,000.

“The fishing and seafood industry is a vital part of Louisiana’s economy, and the state is committed to helping local fishermen continue to recover from hurricanes Gustav and Ike,” said Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater. “The funds from the Wholesale, Dealer, Broker Program, along with the upcoming grants through the Commercial Fisheries Program, will help Louisiana’s fisherman and help boost seafood businesses.”

Louisiana also created a Commercial Fisherman Grant Program to assist Louisiana fishermen who held a commercial fishing license in 2008, are still licensed, and continue to recover from the impacts of hurricanes Gustav and Ike. It is anticipated this program will begin in early March.

"The Louisiana Agricultural Finance Authority under the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry was already set up to help distribute relief funds for our agricultural producers," LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain said. "We were asked to help LDWF and LAFA was the perfect fund-distribution mechanism for the program. We got the money in the hands of seafood dealers quickly and efficiently."

Individuals who held both a Wholesale/Retail Dealer license and a Commercial Fishing license were only allowed to participate in one program.

Both programs are funded using Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) funds, which were set aside for aid to the fishing industry after it suffered more than $750 million in losses in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina, Rita Gustav and Ike. In total, Louisiana received more than $1 billion in CDBG funding for recovery from hurricanes Gustav and Ike, most of which the state has allocated directly to parishes for community recovery activities.

LDWF, OCD and LDAF hosted a series of outreach meetings during the spring of 2010 in coastal communities to provide more information to interested individuals.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

The Disaster Recovery Unit within the Office of Community Development is dedicated to helping Louisiana's citizens recover from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. As the state's central point for hurricane recovery, the OCD-DRU manages the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history, working closely with local, state and federal partners to ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before.

For more information from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, please contact Laura Deslatte at (225)610-2363 or at ldeslatte@wlf.la.gov. For more information from the Office of Community Development, please contact Christina Stephens at (225) 603-3896 or Christina.stephens@la.gov. For more information from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, please contact Sam Irwin at (225) 922-1256 or sirwin@ldaf.state.la.us