Alaska Delegation Introduces FISHES Act to Bolster Disaster Relief for Fisheries

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senators Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced legislation to improve the federal process associated with delivering fishery disaster relief. Representatives Mary Sattler Peltola (D-Alaska) and Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) introduced the companion legislation in the House of Representatives last year. The Fishery Improvement to Streamline Untimely Regulatory Hurdles post Emergency Situation Act (FISHES Act) seeks to expedite the distribution of federal disaster relief following fishery disaster declarations.

Joining the senators and representatives as bipartisan cosponsors are Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.), Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), Troy Carter (D-La.), Troy Nehls (R-Texas), James Moylan (R-Guam), John Rutherford (R-Fla.), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-America Samoa), Clay Higgins (R-La.) and Brian Mast (R-Fla.).

Senator Murkowski said, “Alaska’s fisheries have faced challenges at every turn in recent years – and we will likely see more in the future. From the Yukon River to Prince William Sound to the Bering Sea, nearly every fishery has relied on disaster relief funding to help them through these difficult times. Unfortunately, these fishermen often wait years to see that relief. This common-sense approach applies time limits on agency review so that Alaskans get the help they need, when they need it.”

Senator Sullivan said, “Alaska’s fishing industry has been through a very difficult few years, heightened by an unprecedented number of fishery disasters affecting all parts of our state. While relief dollars have been crucial to providing relief to our fishermen, in most instances, the relief has taken far too long to get approved and reach impacted Alaskans. Senator Scott and I are introducing legislation that will enact timelines on the executive branch’s approval process so that our fishing communities don’t have to wait years to see the federal relief that they are due and can continue to responsibly harvest the freshest, most sustainable seafood in the world.”

Representative Peltola said, “Alaska fish and our fishing communities support our economy, as well as subsistence needs for countless families. Alaskans can’t afford delays when disaster strikes – that’s why I’m proud to champion this bill in the House.”

Senator Scott said, “When disaster strikes, families and small businesses can’t be left wondering whether the federal government is going to show up. Floridians know that better than anyone. The federal government must step up and get folks the help they need as fast as possible as they work to get back on their feet. As we head into hurricane season, now is the time to prepare and I ask Congress to pass this legislation as soon as possible to ensure our fishing industry in Florida and across the country have a reliable partner in Washington.”

Senator Rubio said, “Arbitrary bureaucratic delays to Congressionally appropriated fishery disasters prevents businesses from getting back on their feet. This bill will cut red tape so that these Florida businesses can receive disaster relief in a reasonable and prompt manner after a federal disaster, like a hurricane."

Congressman Donalds said, “Following Hurricane Ian, Southwest Florida’s seafood industry incurred catastrophic devastation and its impact still persists. Waterways are the lifeblood of our economy and our community. It has always been my commitment to advocate for the vitality of water—which ultimately benefits countless families, businesses, and the overall development of Florida’s 19th Congressional District. I am proud to have introduced the bipartisan FISHES Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, and I thank Senator Scott for introducing this critical piece of legislation in the U.S. Senate.”

Specifically, the FISHES Act:

  • Seeks to improve the federal regulatory processes associated with fishery disaster relief funding within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB); and
  • Cuts red tape by enacting a 30-day decision requirement for OMB to deny/approve a state’s spending plan, which will ultimately expedite the federal fishery disaster relief funding process overall.