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Applications accepted for Fishery Disaster Relief Program

The Alabama Marine Resources Division of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is accepting applications for disaster assistance to those affected by freshwater intrusion into areas where heavy marine fishing occurs.

The intrusion has cost the Alabama fishing industry and related businesses within the state millions of dollars, the agency said.

This new opportunity for aid is made possible with a reallocation of $8,619,393 in federal funding.

“I am very thankful that these funds have finally been released by NOAA Fisheries and the Office of Management and Budget,” said Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship. “This has been a long time in coming. Right after the floods in 2019, we worked with our coastal congressional delegation to secure these much-needed funds.

“I am glad the funds will now be able to be distributed to the impacted fishermen and seafood dealers in Alabama.”

Those engaged in commercial fishing, seafood processing, non-retail seafood dealers, live-bait dealers, oyster aquaculture, seafood aquaculture and commercial party boats (charter for-hire) are encouraged to apply.

To be eligible for the funding, fishery-related businesses must have experienced revenue loss as a result of the freshwater intrusion between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2019, compared to their average gross revenue earned in the preceding five years (2014-18).

Only Alabama residents and tribal members are licensed as saltwater commercial fishermen (those that possess licenses for fishing, taking/catching of oysters, taking/carrying shrimp, gill net fishing, and crab catching), seafood or oyster aquaculture operators, non-retail seafood dealers or processors, live-bait dealers, and for-hire vessel owners/operators are eligible to participate.

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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