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 anthropogenic.
Prior to December 29, 2022, at the request of a state governor or an elected or duly appointed representative of an affected fishing community, Congress authorized the Secretary to determine if there has been a commercial fishery failure, or serious disruption due to a fishery resource disaster as a result of an allowable cause under the Magnuson-Stevens Conservation and Management Act, (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act.
On December 29, 2022, Congress enacted the Fishery Disaster Improvement Act amending the Magnuson-Stevens Act and repealing the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act. NOAA Fisheries will be administering disaster assistance requests received after December 29, 2022 under the Magnuson-Stevens Management Act as amended by the Fishery Disaster Improvement Act. Requests received before December 28, 2022 will be reviewed under two aforementioned 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. NOAA is currently updating the Fishery Policy guidance to incorporate new requirements under the Fishery Disaster Improvement Act.
Review our page of frequent questions about fishery disaster assistance 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.