JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and Rep. Steven Palazzo announced the allocation of $21,311,804 in federal fishery disaster relief funds to Mississippi. The U.S. Department of Commerce aid is being distributed in response to a prolonged period of freshwater inundation into the Gulf of Mexico that devastated Gulf Coast fisheries last year. The funds will be distributed by the state to cover losses by fishermen, aquaculture businesses, and seafood processors.

“These funds are welcome news for the many fishermen who suffered through last year’s unprecedented opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway, but our state deserves a long-term solution to disasters like these. I am working to reform the disaster relief process so that funds can be distributed quickly and directly to the people who need them most. I am also pushing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider alternatives to opening the Bonnet Carré Spillway so that we can minimize the risk of these disasters in the future,” said Wicker.

“These funds will begin supporting the ongoing recovery efforts from the devastation caused by the extended opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway last year. While we appreciate this assistance in our recovery, we must reform the way federal fisheries disasters are evaluated and approved,” said Palazzo. “As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I remain committed to allocating resources that will help restore our way of life in south Mississippi.”

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith also praised the announcement of the reward.

“The Mississippi Gulf Coast, buffeted by environmental, economic, and now COVID-19 calamities, needs these anticipated funds to help shore up fishermen, charter fishing operations, processors, and fishery-related infrastructure,” Hyde-Smith said. “I am committed to working for additional appropriations should the region again face catastrophic conditions this year.”

The funds are being made available through an allocation of $150 million set aside last year in an emergency relief bill for the Department of Commerce to mitigate designated fishery disasters.