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Fishery Resource Disaster Process Timeline

NOAA Fisheries oversees the fishery resource disaster program to provide assistance to eligible states, territories, or tribes that experienced a fishery resource disaster.

The Fishery Resource Disaster Assistance program follows a structured timeline, to provide financial support to fishing communities affected by disasters.

  • The process begins when an eligible entity requests a disaster determination from the Secretary of Commerce. Eligible requesters include:
    • State governors
    • Tribal leaders
    • Appointed representatives of a fishing community
  • NOAA Fisheries has 20 days to acknowledge receiving the request, on behalf of the Secretary. If the initial request is incomplete (for example missing required information such as revenue loss threshold), NOAA Fisheries lets the requester know the information that is missing and the requester has up to 365 days to provide the missing information. Once NOAA Fisheries has all the required information, the package is complete and the evaluation process begins.
  • During evaluation, NOAA Fisheries, working with the Secretary of Commerce will determine whether the event qualifies as a fishery resource disaster. To be considered for a fishery resource disaster determination, the event must pose a significant economic or subsistence impact stemming from an allowable cause under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The extent of the impact and severity of losses are carefully considered. This evaluation typically takes up to 120 days.
  • NOAA Fisheries notifies the requester of the Secretary of Commerce’s determination within 14 days. If the disaster qualifies and funds are available, an allocation will be approved and will often be announced within the same 14 days. However, there is no standing fund for fishery resource disaster assistance. Thus, if a disaster qualifies but there are no funds available, an allocation will be delayed until such funds are available. 
  • Following an allocation announcement, the requester is required to submit a spend plan via a grant application within the 120 days. The spend plan must outline specific projects and activities to address the impacts of the disaster and support the recovery of the fishing community.
  • When the spend plan is complete, reviewed, and approved by the relevant entities, funds are disbursed to the requester within 90 days of the approval. The state, territory, or tribe is responsible for distribution of the funds in keeping with the approved spend plan.
  • Throughout the recovery and restoration, NOAA Fisheries monitors the funded projects and activities to ensure alignment with the spend plan. The requester must submit periodic reports on the progress and outcomes of the funded initiatives. This ongoing monitoring and reporting help to track the effectiveness of the assistance provided and make any necessary adjustments to support the long-term recovery of the fishing communities.
An infographic timeline showing each step of the fishery disaster process.