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Senators Murray and Cantwell fought to get the more than $8.4 million in assistance funding to address fishery disasters in Washington state for the past two years

Announcement follows letter from Senators Cantwell and Murray to the Acting Director of the OMB urging the office to expeditiously release fishery disaster assistance – MORE HERE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today announced that more than $8.4 million in fishery disaster assistance would be going to Washington state Tribes and fishing communities. The funding, which Senators Murray and Cantwell originally worked to include in a 2018 spending bill, has been held up by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The senators have pressed OMB to distribute the funding over the past two years, with Cantwell and Murray most recently writing a letter earlier this month to Acting OMB Director Russell Vought urging him to do so. In the letter, the senators highlighted the economic toll that the COVID-19 pandemic and response has taken on Washington state Tribes and fishing communities, and emphasized the need for the speedy distribution of federal fishery disaster assistance funding.

“In these particularly uncertain times, I’m glad to see tribes and other fishing communities across our state finally get the federal assistance they need to recover, and I won’t stop fighting to make sure the federal government is doing its part to ensure Washingtonians who rely on fishing are getting the help they need to survive this crisis,” said Senator Murray.

“Fisheries are a cornerstone of Washington’s maritime economy, and fishery disasters result in significant nutritional, cultural and financial burdens for Tribes,” said Senator Cantwell. “ I will keep working to improve the fisheries disaster process and develop mitigation strategies to lessen the impact of these disasters.”

The fishery disaster funds will go to Tribal and non-Tribal fishing communities across the state, including: $1,492,000 to the Lummi, Nooksack, Tulalip, Suquamish, Makah, Lower Elwha, Jamestown S'Klallam, and Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribes; $3,856,000 to the Hoh, Quileute Tribe, Stillaguamish, Nooksack, Muckleshoot, Upper Skagit, and Suquamish Tribes; $1,654,000 to the Makah Tribe; $970,000 to the Quileute Tribe; and $440,000 to non-Tribal communities. The funding will be distributed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission beginning May 1st.

As the senators stressed in their letter, this delayed fishery assistance funding is desperately needed as the COVID-19 pandemic and response has led to fishery closures and reduced exports, adding to a growing economic crisis for the fishing industry across Washington state. Senators Cantwell and Murray successfully fought to include $300 million for tribal, subsistence, commercial, and charter fishery participants in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and are working to include additional relief funding in future coronavirus relief legislation.

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