Fisheries are an essential part of coastal economies, providing jobs for fishermen, fish processors, and related maritime support industries. Since fisheries depend on the productivity of the environment, there are natural variations in the number of fish caught each year and in the revenue generated by the fishery. However, fisheries are also subject to a number of factors that can cause sudden and unexpected losses, leading to serious economic impact for fishers and their communities. These factors include events such as hurricanes and typhoons, oil spills, harmful algal blooms, and other types of disasters, both natural and man-made.
On December 29, 2022, Congress enacted the Fishery Disasters Improvement Act (beginning on page 803) amending the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) and repealing the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act. NOAA Fisheries will administer disaster assistance requests received after December 29, 2022 under the MSA, as amended by the Fishery Disasters Improvement Act. Disaster requests received before December 28, 2022, and that remain in process, will be reviewed under NOAA Fisheries’ existing policy. This involves fishery disaster provisions for MSA and the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act statutes.
Under the Fishery Disasters Improvement Act revisions of the MSA, a request for a fishery resource disaster determination is generally made by the Governor of a State, an official resolution of an Indian Tribe, or other comparable elected or politically appointed representative as determined by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary).The Secretary may also initiate a review, at their own discretion, including under exceptional circumstances. The Secretary determines whether the fishery resource disaster request is consistent with the MSA and warrants a fishery resource disaster determination. If the Secretary determines that a fishery resource disaster has occurred, Congress may appropriate funds for disaster assistance, which are administered by NOAA Fisheries, as delegated by the Secretary. NOAA is currently updating the Policy on Disaster Assistance to incorporate new requirements under the Fishery Disaster Improvement Act.
Review our page of frequently asked questions about fishery resource disaster assistance to learn more about a number of topics related to fishery disaster assistance, including:
- Overall fishery resource disaster determination process.
- Laws and authorities covering fishery disaster assistance.
- Process to request fishery resource disaster assistance.
- Requirements, including critical timing elements, descriptions, and data, for requesting a fishery resource disaster determination.
- Process for providing disaster assistance following appropriation of funds.