In New Letter, Chair Grijalva and Rep. Huffman Highlight President Trump’s Failure to Distribute Congressionally Approved Funding for Hard-Hit Fishermen

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), chair of the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife, sent a letter to President Trump today questioning his administration’s unexplained failure to distribute $300 million in financial aid to Tribal, subsistence, commercial, and charter fishery participants three months after Congress approved the measure as part of the CARES Act, which became law on March 27. The letter is available at https://bit.ly/31gkQSV.

Due largely to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, American fishermen now operate on a legally mandated sustainable catch basis and landed $5.6 billion worth of seafood in 2018. Given the scope of the seafood economy and its importance in regions around the country, Trump’s dithering and indifference is especially inexcusable, the authors write: “And as of today – three months later – not a single fisherman has received one cent.”

The authors note that instead of overseeing the successful distribution of financial aid, Trump chose to focus on a May 7 executive order directing Regional Fishery Management Councils to spend their time identifying “deregulation” measures. That focus, they write, is a transparent attempt to change the subject from the real issue, which is a lack of markets for seafood.

“The fishing industry is not lacking fish, nor is it overregulated, and until your trade embargos and the pandemic, it was not lacking markets,” the authors write. “Deregulation will not fix these problems and will only hurt fishing communities if we revert to recklessly harvesting resources at an unsustainable rate.”

Indeed, as the authors write, lack of adequate regulation in the past “led to disasters in New England—dark days with plummeting fish stocks that we should not seek to relive.”

The authors also sent the letter to a team of Trump officials in charge of fisheries and commercial policy, including Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

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