Senate and House Great Lakes Task Forces Urge Congress to Support Great Lakes Fisheries in Next COVID-19 Package

September 2, 2020
Press Release
Republicans and Democrats Join Together to Ask that Fisheries in the Great Lakes Basin are Eligible for Future Emergency Funding from Congress

Washington, D.C. – The bipartisan Senate and House Great Lakes Task Forces today requested that tribal, commercial, charter and recreational fisheries in the Great Lakes be made eligible for future emergency funding provided by Congress because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter was led by Senators Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Rob Portman (OH), and Representatives Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), David Joyce (OH-14), and Bill Huizenga (MI-02). 

 

Previous emergency packages, like the CARES Act, have provided money to help fisheries across the country, but the law has been interpreted so that fisheries in the Great Lakes basin do not qualify for assistance.

 

“As in the rest of the country, the economic calamity stemming from the pandemic is significantly harming our commercial, charter, recreational, and tribal fisheries. It is estimated that these fisheries and charter businesses have suffered up to $50 million in losses over the last few months,” wrote the bipartisan group of lawmakers. “We support your efforts to help our nation’s fisheries, tribes, and commercial and recreational fishing industries, and ask that you work with us to ensure any future coronavirus assistance is also available to our tribes and businesses in the Great Lakes basin.”

 

The lawmakers who signed the letter include Senator Stabenow (MI), Senator Portman (OH), Senator Peters (MI), Senator Durbin (IL), Senator Duckworth (IL), Senator Brown (OH), Senator Klobuchar (MN), Senator Smith (MN), Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI-02), Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Congressman David P. Joyce (OH-14), Congressman Mike Quigley (IL-05), Congressman Peter J. Visclosky (IN-01), Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13), Congressman Jack Bergman (MI-01), Congresswoman Haley M. Stevens (MI-11), Congressman Fred Upton (MI-06), Congressman Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16), Congressman Daniel T. Kildee (MI-05), Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02), Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11) and Congressman John Moolenaar (MI-04).

 

The Senate version is addressed to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Leahy and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Lowey and Ranking Member Granger. The House version is addressed to Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy. The Senate letter can be found here and the House letter can be found here. The text of the letters are pasted below.

 

Dear Chairmen Shelby and Lowey and Ranking Members Leahy and Granger:

 

As members representing states and districts throughout the Great Lakes basin, we write to request that our tribal, commercial, charter, and recreational fisheries are made eligible for any future assistance Congress provides for fisheries in response to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act enacted earlier this year provided $300 million to the Department of Commerce to aid tribal, subsistence, commercial, and charter fishery participants affected by the pandemic. However, the Department of Commerce has interpreted the law in a manner that disqualified our region from qualifying for CARES Act fishery assistance. We are disappointed that both the HEROES Act and the HEALS Act would continue this interpretation of excluding the Great Lakes, despite Great Lakes’ fisheries existing partnerships with federal agencies, including the Department of Commerce.

 

As in the rest of the country, the economic calamity stemming from the pandemic is significantly harming our commercial, charter, recreational, and tribal fisheries. It is estimated that these fisheries and charter businesses have suffered up to $50 million in losses over the last few months.

 

We support your efforts to help our nation’s fisheries, tribes, and commercial and recreational fishing industries, and ask that you work with us to ensure any future coronavirus assistance is also available to our tribes and businesses in the Great Lakes basin.

 

Sincerely,

 

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy:

 

As members representing states and districts throughout the Great Lakes basin, we write to request that our tribal, commercial, charter, and recreational fisheries are made eligible for any future assistance Congress provides for fisheries in response to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act enacted earlier this year provided $300 million to the Department of Commerce to aid tribal, subsistence, commercial, and charter fishery participants affected by the pandemic. However, the Department of Commerce has interpreted the law in a manner that disqualified our region from qualifying for CARES Act fishery assistance. We are disappointed that both the HEROES Act and the HEALS Act would continue this interpretation of excluding the Great Lakes, despite Great Lakes’ fisheries existing partnerships with federal agencies, including the Department of Commerce.

 

As in the rest of the country, the economic calamity stemming from the pandemic is significantly harming our commercial, charter, recreational, and tribal fisheries. It is estimated that these fisheries and charter businesses have suffered up to $50 million in losses over the last few months.

 

We support your efforts to help our nation’s fisheries, tribes, and commercial and recreational fishing industries, and ask that you work with us to ensure any future coronavirus assistance is also available to our tribes and businesses in the Great Lakes basin.

 

Sincerely,

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kaptur.house.gov