Excerpts of the report follow (with changes to the law omitted, and available at https://www.congress.gov/congressional-report/116th-congress/senate-report/293/1?s=1&r=10)
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Purpose of the Bill
The purpose of S. 2346, the Fishery Failures: Urgently Needed Disaster Declarations Act, is to clarify and expedite the disaster declaration process, establish certain deadlines for the
Background and Needs
The productivity and profitability of marine fisheries varies significantly due to natural and anthropogenic causes, such as oceanic conditions, climate, pollution, and weather events. There are also unavoidable fluctuations in wild caught fisheries which can create financial challenges for fishermen.
For example, there are cyclical variations in some fish stocks, changes in fish stocks due to extreme conditions, stock declines due to overfishing, and changes in the ability of a fisherman to access a particular fishery. Cyclical variation in fish stocks can be very predictable. For example, certain fish stocks, such as anchovies and sardines, have large variations based on ocean currents./1/ Extreme weather conditions can also cause population changes. For example, anadromous fish/2/ can be very sensitive to drought. Harmful algal blooms (HABs), such as red tide, can cause large and sudden fish kills or make fish unsafe to eat./3/
/2/Anadromous fish are born in fresh water, spend their lives in the sea, and return to fresh water to spawn.
Fishermen can also experience a lack of access to fisheries, even if the stock is healthy. This most often occurs when natural disasters, such as hurricanes or tsunamis, destroy habitat, fishing infrastructure or boats. Fishery disasters occur when fishermen endure economic hardships resulting from fish population declines or other disruptions to the fishery.
Fishery disaster assistance is administered by
/4/Public Law 109-479.
/5/Public Law 99-659.
Funding can also be delayed by a lack of clear deadlines within the process, a lack of clarity about allowable uses, as well as the lengthy process of developing a spend plan and obtaining approval for the dispersal of funds from the
Historically, assistance has been provided to fishermen and fishing communities in the form of grants, job retraining, employment, and low interest loans. Disaster assistance has also included fishery data collection, resource restoration, research, and fishing capacity reduction programs to prevent or lessen the effects of future disruptions to fisheries.
Currently, funding under section 308(d) of the IJFA may be used to provide direct assistance to fishermen or to provide assistance indirectly through State agencies, local government, and nonprofit organizations for activities such as capacity reduction programs like fishing vessel buybacks, gear reduction, or fishing permit retirement. Funding may also be used for compensation, community grants, training, loans, debt refinancing, and employment on fishery-related projects./11/
The current system of fishery disaster relief has raised concerns regarding the timing of relief to meet crucial needs, the relationship between disaster relief and long-term fisheries management, the definition of a fishery failure, and determination of the beneficiaries of relief./12/
TIME DELAY BETWEEN DISASTER AND RELIEF
Delay in the distribution of financial relief is a major concern surrounding disaster assistance. Fishery disasters often occur suddenly and can have immediate socio-economic impacts to fishing communities. As such, many stakeholders believe there should be an avenue for receiving direct financial assistance soon after a disaster is declared.
CONSEQUENCES OF FLOODING AND DROUGHT
The rate of freshwater outflow from rivers and streams can have enormous impacts to fisheries. Fisheries can be harmed by extremes in salinity when there is too much or too little fresh water. From 2010 to 2013, the
In addition to deadly changes in salinity, increased flooding can bring with it an influx of nutrients and bacteria, leading to HABs. HABs release biotoxins that can harm people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds./22/ For example, excess nutrient runoff from the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway has caused a HAB event in
Overall, HABs account for the loss of
/16/Florida Sea Grant, "Apalachicola Bay Oyster Situation Report,"
Climate variability and change impact the ocean in many ways, from extreme events to winds to temperatures and other ocean parameters that directly and indirectly impact fish stocks./24/ This variability also can have dramatic impacts on fisheries,/25/ as evidenced by the impact of the warm water "blob" that occurred off the
/25/Coastal and Ocean Climate Applications (COCA) Fisheries and Climate Program (https://cpo.noaa.gov/Meet-the-Divisions/Climate-andSocietal-Interactions/COCA/Climate-Fisheries).
/27/Coastal and Ocean Climate Applications (COCA) Fisheries and Climate Program (https://cpo.noaa.gov/Meet-the-Divisions/Climate-andSocietal-Interactions/COCA/Climate-Fisheries).
Summary of Provisions
S. 2346, the Fishery Failures: Urgently Needed Disaster Declarations Act, would do the following:
Clarify redundancies in fishery resource disaster legislation.
Provide a more efficient process for requesters seeking disaster assistance when the fishery disaster is a result of a Federal response to a natural disaster.
Expedite disaster review process by requiring
Provide opportunities for employment for fishery employees displaced by a fishery disaster by prioritizing hiring to undertake restoration, conservation, and other fishery rebuilding activities funded by disaster relief funds.
Make information available to requesters to clarify fishery disaster request process.
Clarify the eligibility of charter, recreational, and Tribal fishermen to have access to disaster funds.
S. 2346 was introduced on
In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the
Under current law, the
Using information from
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is
The estimate was reviewed by
Regulatory Impact Statement
In accordance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the
Number of persons covered
S. 2346, as reported, would not create any new programs or impose any new regulatory requirements, and therefore would not subject any individuals or businesses to new regulations.
S. 2346, as reported, is not expected to have a negative impact on the Nation's economy. It is likely to have a net positive benefit by expediting the recovery of fisheries communities from unexpected disasters.
The reported bill would have no impact on the personal privacy of individuals. Additional paperwork requirements for industries would be covered under section 402(b) of the Magnuson Stevens Act, which protects proprietary information.
S. 2346, as reported, would require additional revenue data from communities that collect a fish tax and from fish processors if they are seeking fishery disaster funds. The additional paperwork burden on these groups would be offset by the benefit of Federal recovery funding in the event of a fishery disaster declaration.
Congressionally Directed Spending
In compliance with paragraph 4(b) of rule XLIV of the Standing Rules of the
Section 1. Short title
This section would provide that the bill may be cited as the "Fishery Failures: Urgently Needed Disaster Declarations Act".
Section 2. Fishery resource disaster relief
This section would define several terms used throughout the legislation. These terms include "allowable cause", "anthropogenic cause", "fishery resource disaster", "
This section also would give the Secretary of Commerce authority to determine the existence, extent, and beginning and end dates of a fishery disaster. After a disaster is determined, the Secretary would make funds available to be used by State or regional groups for assessment of impacts of the disaster as well as other activities that help to support fishing activity, such as restoration and prevention of future disasters.
This section also would describe the fishery disaster review process. The initiation of a fishery disaster review would occur after the appropriate representative submits a request, within 1 year of the potential fishery disaster. This section would define the required fishery and disaster information for a request, which would include the affected stock, geographical boundaries, cause of disaster, and information that supports a disaster claim. This section would allow the Secretary to assist the requester in providing required data.
The review of a fishery disaster would begin with an interim response provided by the Secretary within 20 days of receipt acknowledging the request and requesting additional information if necessary. This section would assign a 120-day timeline for the Secretary to evaluate a request, unless the fishing season is not over, in which case the Secretary would complete evaluation after the close of the fishery season. This section would require the Secretary to use the best fishery science and sociocultural and economic information available to evaluate the disaster.
This section would define the criteria for the Secretary to determine a fishery resource disaster, including revenue loss thresholds, ineligible fisheries, and exceptional circumstances. Fisheries subject to overfishing would not be eligible for disaster assistance unless overfishing did not contribute to the disaster. In the case of obvious substantial economic impacts to a fishery which has also been subject to a disaster declaration under another statutory authority (e.g., a natural disaster or a fishery disaster resulting from a Federal action in response to a natural disaster), revenue loss analysis would not be required. This section would direct the Secretary to allocate funds for fishery resource disasters.
This section would list criteria the Secretary shall consider when determining allocation of appropriations and the methods by which funds may be appropriated. This section also would direct the requester to submit a spend plan within 120 days after receiving a notification affirming a fishery disaster. In the case where a fishery disaster is declared but funds have not been appropriated, the requester would still be required to submit a spend plan 120 days after notification of a positive disaster determination. Direct assistance would be allowed on the spend plan. The Secretary would provide allocation of funds within 90 days.
This section would list the eligible uses of fishery disaster relief funds, including habitat restoration and conservation, efforts to improve management of the affected fishery, repair or improvement of fishery-related public infrastructure, job training, public information campaigns, and other purposes to restore or prevent future disasters to the fishery. This section would prioritize hiring fishery employees displaced by the fishery disaster to undertake these tasks.
This section also would restrict the use of funds for administrative costs. No financial assistance would be used to fund fishery reduction programs under this section. This section would direct
This section would include a savings clause to allow requesters already experiencing the fishery disaster process to complete the process prior to the implementation of a new process.
Section 3. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act This section would repeal section 315, the Regional Coastal Disaster Assistance, Transition, and Recovery Program, of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. This section would also modify the annual report required for the
Section 4. Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act of 1986 This section would repeal section 308 of the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act of 1986. It would include a technical conforming edit to the Small Business Act.
Section 5. Budget requests; reports
This section would require the Secretary to submit a list of and amount requested for outstanding fishery disaster requests with the annual budget request. It would reduce the frequency of certain reports. It would require a report on climate change and the impact on fisheries from the Government Accountability Office.
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