Commercial Fishing and Aquaculture Protection Act
The National Aquaculture Association (NAA) recommends support for legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) to create a disaster assistance program for commercial fishing and aquaculture operations.
The Commercial Fishing and Aquaculture Protection Act of 2019 (S 2209) would authorize a viable risk-management tool to help commercial fisheries and aquaculture to mitigate losses associated with market, weather, and other disaster conditions.
“Farmers and ranchers who experience serious losses have access to well-established USDA programs to help them survive down years. Commercial fishermen, including aquaculture operations, do not have that option,” Senator Hyde-Smith said. U.S. Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) is an original cosponsor of the legislation.
Senator Hyde-Smith’s legislation would establish a permanent revenue-based disaster program to either replace or serve as an alternative to the “ad hoc” fishery disaster assistance provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The assistance program would apply to all species whether commercially fished or farm raised, including shellfish (oysters, shrimp, crawfish, and crab), finfish (catfish), and “any other species of aquatic organism harvested with the intent of entering commerce.”
With or without a fishery disaster declaration, the bill would require the Secretary of Commerce to provide support payments based on a formula if actual total gross revenue for a given year falls below 85 percent of the average total gross revenue for the three previous years.
The new assistance program would begin with the 2019 calendar year and be subject to the availability of appropriated funding, such as the $150 million provided for fishery disaster assistance in the FY2019 Supplemental Appropriations Act enacted on June 6, 2019.
A one-page summary of the bill is available here, and a copy of the legislation is available here. Aquatic animal and plant farmers are urged to contact their Senators to support or co-sponsor S 2209 and to contact their House member to request a companion bill be introduced in the House. House and Senate members can be found here and here, respectively.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate.
All the best,
Paul W. Zajicek, Executive Director
National Aquaculture Association (USA)