SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — U.S. representatives will announce legislation that would provide California fishermen and businesses with $138 million in funding.
The Crab Emergency Disaster Assistance Act of 2016 would provide $138.15 million in assistance to Dungeness and rock crab fishermen and related businesses. The funding is contingent on U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker declaring the state’s crab fishing industry a disaster and a commercial fishery failure.
This comes after the shutdown of this year’s commercial crab season. The season was supposed to open on Nov. 17 but remained closed because of high levels of harmful acid in the crab.
Last month, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife moved to allow recreational crab fishing south of Point Reyes but continued the closure of the commercial season.
As of February, the shutdown caused an estimated $48 million in losses to the industry.
“Commercial fishermen and local businesses have been economically devastated by the closure of the Dungeness crab season,” Speier, D-San Mateo/San Francisco, said today in a statement. “Some of them are on the brink of losing their boats.”
“These hardworking fishermen shouldn’t have to suffer economic hardship after working tirelessly to sustain this crab fishery, which is so vital to our local economy,” Huffman, D-San Rafael, said.
The act also includes $1 million for domoic acid sampling and monitoring on the West Coast and $5 million for competitive grants for research on harmful algal blooms and domoic acid toxicity. Gov. Jerry Brown on Feb. 9 sent a letter to Pritzker asking the secretary to declare a fisheries disaster. U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, will introduce a companion bill in the Senate.
The funding now depends on state officials, declaring the crab fishing industry a disaster.
U.S. Reps. Jackie Speier and Jared Huffman will announce legislation Friday in San FranciscoBay City News contributed to this report