FISHES Act Introduced to Cut Red Tape In Delivery of Disaster Funds

Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
Sen. Dan Sullivan. Photos: U.S. Senate.

Legislation backed by 16 members of Congress aims to expedite delivery of disaster relief following fisheries disaster declarations by cutting red tape currently complicating the approval process by federal agencies.

The Fishery Improvement to Streamline Untimely Regulatory Hurdles post Emergency Situation (FISHES) Act was introduced May 2 by Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both R-Alaska, and Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, both R-Florida.

Representatives Mary Peltola, D-Alaska and Byron Donalds, R-Florida, introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives last year.

Co-sponsors among the 12 representatives in the House include James Moylan, R-Guam, and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, R-America Samoa.

The legislation seeks to improve the federal regulatory process associated for fishery disaster relief funding within the Office of Management and Budget. It calls for enacting a 30-day decision requirement for OMB to deny or approve a state’s spending plan, expediting the overall federal fishery disaster relief funding process.

“From the Yukon River to Prince William Sound to the Bering Sea, nearly every fishery has relied on disaster relief funding to help them through these difficult times,” Murkowski said. “Unfortunately, these fishermen often wait years to see that relief. This common-sense approach applies time limits on agency review so that Alaskans get the help they need, when they need it.”

“While relief dollars have been crucial to providing relief to our fishermen, in most instances, the relief has taken far too long to get approved and reach impacted Alaskans,” Sullivan said in a statement.  “This legislation will enact timelines on the executive branch’s approval process so that our fishing communities don’t have to wait years to see the federal relief that they are due.”