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Congressmembers Speier and Huffman to Announce Introduction of Crab Disaster Relief Bill

March 2, 2016
Press Release

San Mateo, CA - Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) and Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-02) will announce the introduction of the Crab Emergency Disaster Assistance Act of 2016 at a press conference on Friday, March 4, 2016 at 10 a.m. at Scoma’s Restaurant in San Francisco’s Fishermen’s Wharf.

“Commercial Fishermen and local businesses have been economically devastated by the closure of the Dungeness crab season. Some of them are on the brink of losing their boats,” Speier said. “These hard working men and women deserve support and our bill is designed to help them stay in business. Even if the season opened now, the economic damage has been done in the last four months.”

“This commercial fishery disaster, caused by persistent high levels of a toxin in the crabs and the environment, is not the fault of crab fishermen or the coastal communities in which they live,” Huffman said. “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. While we ask that Secretary Pritzker expeditiously evaluates Governor Brown’s disaster declaration request to provide immediate financial relief, we are also introducing legislation to make federal funds available and ensure we are doing all we can to take care of these fishing industry small business owners and workers who are already facing devastated Northern California salmon runs. ”

The Crab Emergency Disaster Assistance Act of 2016 appropriates $138.15 million for disaster assistance to California Dungeness and rock crab fishermen and related businesses. It also appropriates $1 million for West Coast domoic acid sampling and monitoring, and $5 million for competitive grants distributed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for research on harmful algal bloom prediction and domoic acid toxicity. The funding is contingent upon a disaster declaration from the Secretary of Commerce and will be distributed by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. Unused funds will be returned to the Treasury.

Senator Barbara Boxer will introduce a companion bill in the Senate. She will not be able to participate in the press conference.

The commercial Dungeness crab season was scheduled to open on November 15 but has stayed closed due to an unprecedented toxic bloom of Pseudo-nitzcha australis, an algae containing the neurotoxin domoic acid. Domoic acid accumulates in the crabs and can be transferred into humans if eaten.

In a February 9 letter, Governor Jerry Brown requested that the Department of Commerce declare a fisheries disaster.

What:    
Press Conference announcing introduction of the Crab Emergency Disaster Assistance Act of 2016
When:        
Friday, March 4, 2016, 10 a.m.
Where:     
Scoma’s Restaurant
1965 Al Scoma Way
San Francisco, CA 94133

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