Fishery Disaster Assistance

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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 manmade, that cause a commercial fishery to be harmed or fail.

NOAA Fisheries administers disaster assistance under two statutes—the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act. Under both statutes, a state governor or an elected or duly appointed representative of an affected fishing community can request a fishery disaster determination from the Secretary of Commerce. The Secretary may also initiate a review. If the Secretary determines that a fishery disaster has occurred, the fishery is eligible for disaster assistance subject to appropriation of funds by Congress.

Review our frequent questions to learn more about a number of topics related to fishery disaster assistance, including:

  • Overall fishery disaster determination process.

  • Laws and authorities covering fishery disaster assistance.

  • Process to request fishery disaster assistance.

  • Requirements for a fishery disaster determination.

  • Process for providing disaster assistance following appropriation of funds.

Explore the complete list of fishery disaster determinations